South African Cultural Museums
With our plethora of diverse cultures, it's little wonder that we have many cultural museums in South Africa. Besides the wider known national and provincial institutions, there are countless exhibitions throughout the country, in small towns, in townships and in rural areas. Some of them come in the form of cultural villages, with reconstructed traditional homesteads. Here they demonstrate aspects of traditional life.
The Mother City, in particular, holds a number of South African cultural museums, many managed by Iziko Museums. One especially colourful one is in the Muslim neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap. Others include house musuems such as Koopmans-De Wet House, Bertram House and Groot Constantia.
Another culture worth examining in that city is that of the Coloured community. Part of their story (and that of other groups too) is related at the District Six Museum, in the context of apartheid and its policies of segregation.
Two other cultural influences showcased in Cape institutions are the French and the Afrikaners. The French came to the Cape some 300 years ago as Huguenot refugees and although they have long assimilated into the general population, their influence is still felt. The Afrikaner culture is very much alive and still being shaped, as is evident at the Afrikaans Language Monument and Museum in Paarl.
Johannesburg represents the country's largest melting pots, and is the location of one of the most wide-ranging of South African culture museums, Museum AfricA, which brings to life all those cultures that poured onto the Reef in search of gold. The effect is riveting.
In KwaZulu-Natal the Zulu culture is iconic, and a museum that brings its customs and traditions to the fore is the KwaZulu Cultural Museum at Ondini, an area rich in battlefield history.
Even in South Africa's heartland, the vast Karoo, there are any number of cultural museums that tell the story of its diverse peoples. Graaff-Reinet, in particular, has a collection of well-maintained cultural museums and smaller towns like Richmond have kept their historic collections. You will even find well-kept collections on many of the guest farms scattered throughout the Great- and Little Karoo.