The KwaZulu-Natal Museum in Pietermaritzburg is an impressive, modern museum covering the natural and cultural history of the KwaZulu-Natal region, with a specific focus on Zulu culture. Also an educational facility, the museum is constantly expanding its own horizons through research projects.

Did you know?

The Natal Museum is home to the largest research library in South Africa.

The KwaZulu-Natal Museum is one of South Africa's oldest major regional museums which was first opened to the public in November 1904. The museum is a cultural and natural history museum dedicated to the understanding of the natural world and the history of humankind.

If you're interested in South African heritage, this museum is a must-see as it hosts several of South Africa's most important heritage collections. The internationally renowned collections feature regional archaeology, African cultural products, European settler history, seashells, insects and other fauna.

In addition, the Natal Museum is a proud custodian of one of the most important collections of Zulu objets d'art in the world.

There's a room dedicated to KwaZulu-Natal history, geological and paleontological material, and a recreation of a late 1800s Victorian street featuring shops, a stable and period houses.

There's also a full-sized replica of a Drakensberg cave, complete with rock art, and a wrecked olden-day trading vessel. What makes the KwaZulu-Natal Museum particularly interesting is the array of interesting temporary exhibitions that give the museum a definite dynamic advantage. Temporary exhibitions and happenings have included an exploration of the history of segregation in the US, xenophobic violence, children’s art exhibition.

The museum's in-house Department of Human Sciences includes a team of archaeologists and cultural heritage technicians who specialise in multiple disciplines covering both South Africa's past and its material culture.

Discover the fascinating research being carried out on human cognition and modern behaviour, the history of hunter-gatherers and farming communities, as well as rock art and Nguni history.

Make time to visit the exhibition department where educational and entertaining exhibitions are rotated to keep travellers returning for more. The displays are interactive to encourage dymanic learning and to stimulate interest in South Africa's cultural diversity. A number of temporary and travelling displays, incorporating multimedia technology, are also created by the exhibition team.

The Natal Museum is also home to the Natal Museum Library, South Africa's largest research library, which is dedicated to the collection, preservation, study and exhibition of objects of cultural and scientific value, particularly in the field of natural and human sciences.

Learners from surrounding schools often visit the museum which is equipped with an internet café, resource library and film room to encourage further research and study.

This museum is wheelchair friendly and includes a ramp, lift and special toilet facilities.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The KwaZulu-Natal Museum
Tel: +27 (0) 33 345 1404
Fax: +27 (0)33 345 0561
Email: info@nmsa.org.za

How to get here

The KwaZulu-Natal Museum is easily accessible by car, bus and taxi. There is adequate parking in the area.

Best time to visit

Monday to Friday 8.15am to 4.30pm, Saturdays - 9am to 4pm, Sundays - 10am to 3pm. Closed on 1 January, Good Friday, Christmas and Boxing Day.

Get around

The museum and grounds are small enough to walk around.

What will it cost

Adults (over 17 years) R10, scholars R1.50, pensioners and children under four free

Length of stay

You will not need more than half a day to visit the museum.

Where to stay

Pietermaritzburg has a wide range of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs for overnight visitors.

What to eat

There are several eateries in the vicinity.

What's happening

Consult the museum's website for updates on exhibitions and special events.