The KwaMuhle Museum
Did you know?
'Kwa muhle' means 'the place of the good one' in isiZulu.
The KwaMuhle Museum in Durban has the unenviable reputation as once being one of the most hated buildings in the city when it was the former Department Of Native Affairs, an authoritative body responsible for enforcing punitive apartheid legislation.
Ironically, today it provides a home for the historical records of the many different cultural groups whose contributions shaped Durban into the colourful and vibrant city of eThekwini that we know today – in spite of restrictions imposed by apartheid.
On entering the double-storey union-style building, travellers are immediately captivated by a diverse collection of interesting and thought-provoking records of apartheid legislation and the monochrome images depicting attempts by various groups to oppose its rigid rules and regulations.
Video and photographic displays complement historical exhibits to provide visitors with a holistic appreciation of early Durban and her spirited pioneers.
The KwaMuhle Museum in eThekwini takes its name from its first manager - JS Marwick - who helped 7 000 Zulus leave the Transvaal (now Gauteng) during the Boer War. An excerpt from the museum's founding credo reads: 'This is a museum about power and powerlessness and the struggle for human dignity by ordinary people'.
Durban's KwaMuhle Museum is a monument to the city's troubled past, acknowledging past injustices and abuses but also affirming the contribution of the majority of the population to the development of Durban. It is one of four sites that make up Durban's Local History Museums – the others being the Old Court House Museum, Old House Museum and The Port Natal Maritime Museum.
The building is highly recognisable, designed in 1927 by town architect William Murray-Jones and built in 1928. The KwaMuhle Museum's exhibits are immensely valuable to learners, students, historians, social scientists, tourists and the general public.
‘The Durban System', which is on permanent display, accurately documents aspects of African city life at the time and along with a range of temporary displays, is very popular with visitors.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Phone: +27 (0)31 311 2237
Fax: +27 (0)31 311 2224
How to get here
The KwaMuhle Museum is located at 130 Ordnance Road near the city centre and is easily accessible by car, taxi and bus. There is plenty of parking in the area.
Best time to visit
The Museum is open from Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 4pm. It is closed on Sundays and holidays.
Around the area
The nearby Durban Art Gallery, which houses a large art collection, is well worth a visit, as is the eThekwini City Hall in the centre of town.
Tours to do
City sightseeing tours are available, as are tours to the midlands and along the beachfront.
What will it cost
Admission to the museum is free of charge.
Length of stay
You will need no more than half a day to visit KwaMuhle.
Where to stay
eThekwini (formerly Durban) has a wide range of accommodation options from hotels to guesthouses and B&Bs.