At the beginning of the 19th century, black people were forcibly relocated to Port Elizabeth's New Brighton precinct and the area became a crucible for political activists and a safe haven for anti-apartheid fugitives.
The Red Location Museum, a primary development of the Red Location Cultural Precinct, is based on the concept of a 'memory box' (migrant workers on South Africa's mines carried a box filled with mementos to remind them of their homes and their roots).
The museum resonates with the community through its construction materials – oxidised corrugated iron, wood and steel – that pay homage to its shanty town location.
It's a museum about memory and metaphor that seeks to engage with the nation's recollections of an unjust past, using exhibitions depicting the horrors of institutionalised racism and the heroic efforts of the anti-apartheid movement.
It's one of only two museums in the country specialising in apartheid history (the other is the Apartheid Museum near Soweto, Johannesburg) and it's the only museum in South Africa which houses an internal mausoleum.
Architect Joe Noero made provision for several exhibition spaces, the museum houses an art gallery showcasing local artists, and its community run restaurant features reasonably priced local food.
A series of five montages, timelines and modules showcasing the history of the township and the community's bid for liberty line the walls. These change regularly to feature different exhibitions.
Vibrant public programmes hosted by the museum promote creative learning and serve as a stimulus for upgrading the impoverished living conditions in the settlement around it. The auditorium, conference facilities and an outdoor arena are able to collectively host in excess of 7 000 visitors.
Visitors should see the Red Location Museum as an extension of daily life in an extraordinary township, so stay a while and take advantage of a local tour and the cultural encounter of a lifetime in the company of the residents of New Brighton.
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Red Location Museum
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