Did you know?
The old Sanatorium in Belgravia was Cecil John Rhodes’ headquarters during the Siege of Kimberley, which happened during the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War), fought between 1899 and 1902.
Kimberley’s McGregor Museum is based in the old Kimberley Sanatorium building in the upmarket suburb of Belgravia, but it has a number of satellite venues spread around the 'City of Diamonds'.
It is also a major Northern Cape research institute specialising in natural and cultural history. When you look at a general map of Kimberley and surrounds, you’ll see markings for places that include the Duggan-Cronin Gallery, Rudd House, Dunluce House, the Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre, the Magersfontein battlefield site, the Pioneers of Aviation Museum and, further afield, the Wonderwerk Cave near Kuruman and a museum at the Mokala National Park.
The displays at the old Sanatorium are eclectic and highly interesting if your bent is general knowledge. You will glean all kinds of snippets on your ramblings downstairs and upstairs in this massive old building.
• When Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape in 1652, there were only 500-million people living in the world;
• In 1800, the international average life expentancy was 25;
• Africa’s first mine was established 110 000 years ago in Swaziland;
• Rock art was a ‘creative explosion’ that happened 40 000 years ago and spread around the world;
• The earliest-known chicken found in Africa dates back to 700 AD.
Your explorations of the central McGregor Museum will take you from cave dwellers to the dawn of humanity, ancient tools and hand-axes, the Stone Age, the arrival of Europeans in South Africa, conflict over minerals, Olive Schreiner, Chief Galeshewe (a local hero) and right through to the Siege of Kimberley.
Designed to pique your interest in southern African history, the exhibits range from various details on travellers and explorers through to the heady diamond field days of Kimberley and its huge role during the South African (Anglo-Boer) War period.
Kimberley is so replete with historical keepsakes and artefacts that much of what you see in this building comes from the personal collections of the older families whose roots lie deep in the city.