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TThe 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.
The KwaZulu-Natal Museum is one of South Africa's oldest major regional museums, 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 and a 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 dynamic learning and 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 museum is also home to the KZN 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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
The KwaZulu-Natal Museum
Tel: +27 (0)33 345 1404
How to get here
The KwaZulu-Natal Museum is on 237 Jabu Ndlovu Street in the centre of Pietermaritzburg. Get there by car or 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.
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 4 free.
Length of stay
You will not need more than half a day.
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.
Consult the museum's website for updates on exhibitions and special events.