Did you know?
Museum Africa is housed in what used to be the city's main fruit and vegetable market.
A former fruit and produce market is an unlikely place for a museum, but this one-time Johannesburg institution is a perfect venue for Johannesburg's multi-faceted history. Renovated since, without altering its distinctive exterior, the rambling building is now home to MuseumAfricA, and the structure somewhat imitates the twists and turns of Johannesburg's history.
This Johannesburg African museum tells a story of multiple cultures coming together in a dynamic city, shaped by landmark discoveries and political events. With the aid of interactive devices, sound and visuals, it effectively transports the visitor back in time.
Johannesburg's raison d'etre, the discovery of gold, is a strong thread in the displays. You can learn about the geology that spawned the precious metal, experience the confusion of a rock fall in a mine tunnel, see what life was like for a worker in a mine compound, or at the other end of the scale, the prosperous mine manager.
As workers labourers flocked to the city in search of work, you can witness the emergence of an urban township culture in overcrowded, poverty-stricken conditions, where residents escaped into marabi music and dance. Reconstructions of a Sophiatown (one such township) shebeen and an Alexandra shack offer a small inkling of what life in these locations was like.
This South African cultural museum touches on important political moments, like the Anglo-Boer War and the 1956 Treason Trial, which gripped Johannesburg for 4 years as 156 people stood trial under the Suppression of Communism laws. And it highlights the roles played by personalities such as Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, whose concept of passive resistance were formed by his experiences in South Africa.
MuseumAfricA is located in the Newtown Cultural Precinct, which has a number of other attractions to warrant spending a good few hours in the area.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
121 Bree Street, Newtown, Johannesburg
Tel: 011 833 5624
Fax 011 833 5636
Tuesdays to Sundays 09h00- 17h00.
Closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and 26 December