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Museums in Cape Town
The best museums in Cape Town and the Surrounds
Last Update: 11 September 2017
Did you know that you can find 350 West African Gold artefacts and over one and a half million specimens of scientific importance in Cape Town? Find out more about Cape Town’s rich heritage and beyond, by visiting some of its treasured museums.
La Motte Museum
Established in 1695, La Motte winery has a rich cultural history, which it enjoys sharing with visitors to this spectacular estate at the La Motte Museum on the property. The journey back in time starts in the foyer of the museum where the history of the farm has been exquisitely displayed. Leading off from the foyer are two large exhibition spaces where the curated art is rotated on an annual basis. The work of some of the country’s finest artists can be seen. This year, 2017, the space paid tribute to the life and work of one of South Africa’s most renowned painters, Jacob Hendrik Pierneef (1886 - 1957). The Pierneef exhibition features some of this pieces from La Motte’s permanent collection, as well as some of the artist’s personal artefacts from various collection held by collectors around the country. Entrance is free.
Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday: 9am to 5pm, closed on all Christian religious holidays.
R45 Main Road | Franschhoek Valley | | [email protected] | +27 (0)21 876 8850
Iziko South African Museum
Founded in 1825, the museum moved to its present location in the historic Company Gardens in 1897. The museum houses over one million specimens of scientific importance including tools that are around 120,000 years old. Highlights are the recorded whale calls and the dinosaur dioramas.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 10am to 5pm, closed on Christmas Day and Workers Day.
25 Queen Victoria Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 481 3800
The Bo-Kaap Museum is situated in a historical area and showcases local Islamic culture and heritage. The colourful houses, steep cobbled streets, the muezzin’s calls to prayer and children traditionally dressed for Madrassa, all add to this unique Cape experience.
Opening times: Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm, closed on Workers Day, Christmas Day, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and the 2nd January.
71 Wale Street | Bo-Kaap | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 481 3939
Iziko Slave Lodge reflects the long and rich history of Cape Town which is highlighted by the many names it has had in the last three centuries– Slave Lodge, Government Offices Building, Old Supreme Court and SA Cultural History Museum. The museum is undergoing some changes but popular exhibitions, such as the Memory Centre, can still be visited.
Opening times: Monday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm, closed on Christmas Day and Workers Day.
Corner Adderley and Wale Streets | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 460 8242
Koopmans-De Wet House
Koopmans-De Wet House is an 18th century family home and it houses some of the best pieces of Cape furniture and silver, as well as a priceless collection of ceramics. Opened in 1914, the museum is named after Marie Koopmans-De Wet, who is known for the work she did to help orphans and widows of Boer republics during the South African War.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 10am - 5pm, closed on Christmas Day and Workers Day.
35 Strand Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 481 3935
The South African Jewish Museum
Interactive and high tech, the museum offers visitors a truly unique experience with its bold architectural design and engaging accounts of South African Jewish history. The displays are divided between two buildings; one is general Jewish history while the other covers the Holocaust. The museum shop stocks African embroidered challah covers, ceramic Judaica, designer jewellery, beaded and ceramic mezuzahs, Jewish cookbooks, books on Jewish socio-political themes and a wide selection of children's books. The restaurant is also worth a visit and there’s a jungle gym for children to play on.
Opening times: Sunday - Thursday: 10am - 5pm, Friday: 10am to 5pm, closed on Jewish holidays.
88 Hatfield Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)465 1546
District Six Museum
The District Six Museum was established in December 1994 and is committed to telling the stories of forced removals and assisting in the reconstitution of the community of District Six and Cape Town. The collection offers a glimpse into the lives of the residents and gives you a sense of the history of the place. Guided tours of the area are offered and they are conducted by an ex-resident.
Opening times: Monday: 9am - 2pm, Tuesday - Saturday: 9am - 4pm, Sunday: by appointment only.
25A Buitenkant Street | District Six | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 466 7200
Castle of Good Hope
Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a maritime replenishment station, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. Visit attractions like the Military Museum, the William Fehr Collection and the Castle Forge or go on one of the guided horse and carriage tours that are held daily.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 9am to 4pm, closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day.
Corner Darling and Buitenkant Streets | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 787 1260
The Springbok Experience
A late 2013 addition to Cape Town’s much-visited V&A Waterfront, The Springbok Experience rugby museum is a world-class visitor attraction that offers deep insight into South Africa’s most adored sport. Through a series of advanced audio-visual displays that use colour, music and movement to bring the game to life, the double-storey rugga shrine recounts the story of the development of both white and black rugby since the 1860s, and in so doing, tells the tale of our country’s own political journey. In addition to maps, touch-screens, animated paintings and sculptures, the space also houses a number of significant artefacts – think Francois Pienaar’s famous No. 6 jersey, signed fan paraphernalia, Joel Stransky’s iconic ’95 ‘drop goal’ boots and much more. Not to mention, there’s a flagship rugby store on site and a Springbok Trials zone, where guests can attempt various Wii-like kicking, passing, reaction and fitness tests to determine whether they’d make the national squad. In short, the museum is a great option for locals looking to learn more about an Mzansi cultural cornerstone and for tourists keen to get to grips with what makes our country tick. Entry is very affordable: between R50p/p and R65p/p for adults, between R30p/p and R40p/p for scholars and pensioners and free for pre-schoolers.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday:10am – 6pm
Portswood House | Cnr Dock and Portswood roads | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 418 4741
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
This state-of-the-art addition to Cape Town’s already prestigious V&AWaterfront is scheduled to be completed in 2016, at which point it will assume its place as the largest museum of modern art on the continent. Under the leadership of renowned British architect Thomas Heatherwick, the area’s old grain silos are to be revamped and re-imagined as nine floors spanning 9,500sq m and featuring 80 separate gallery spaces, a rooftop sculpture garden, conservation vault, bookshop, a floor dedicated to art education, a restaurant, bar and café. And as Africa’s version of London’s Tate Gallery or New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), it goes without saying that the Zeitz will feature top installations by leading artists in the contemporary sphere.
Opening times: TBC
Grain Silo Complex | Silo District | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town
Shimansky Tour at the Cape Town Diamond Museum
This museum pays tribute to the sparkliest of rocks around. Learn about the three billion years it can take for the formation of a diamond to take place; from its journey in the ground to becoming a gem you’d want to wear. With beautiful illustrations and replicas of famous diamonds, the Cape Town Diamond Museum offers a fascinating look at the covetable gems and their history. Entrance to the Shimansky jewellery showroom will cost R50/p.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday: 9am – 9pm.
Level 1 | The Clock Tower | Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 421 2488
Iziko Maritime Centre
Visit the Maritime Centre for an overview of shipping in Cape town as well as a collection of ship models and objects associated with shipping. The museum is made up of various collections, including archived photographs which depict 9200 ships, dating from the late 1930s to the early 1960s.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday: 10am - 5pm, closed on Christmas Day and Workers Day.
1st Floor | Union-Castle House | Dock Road | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 405 2880
Chavonnes Cannon Battery Museum
This museum is partly outside with three great cannons in place on reconstructed garrison carriages. The inside section allows visitors a view of the ancient stones, graphic information boards, detailed models, a mixture of genuine artefacts, careful replicas and, one of the most popular sections, the gunnery display.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 9am - 4pm.
Clock Tower | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 416 6230
The South African Naval Museum
This collection includes ship and submarine models, a life-size ship’s bridge and a submarine’s operations and control room, naval guns, sea mines, naval uniforms and torpedoes. It’s not just about ships, submarines and weapons, however, as the museum provides information on the people that have been involved in the Navy over the years too.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 9:30am - 3:30pm, closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Naval Dockyard | St George’s Street | Simons Town | |+27 (0)21 787 4686
The History of the Police Museum
This museum is situated in the old Muizenberg Police Station and the adjoining old magistrate’s court. Antique furniture, uniforms and various police items are part of the exhibition. There are depictions of notorious criminal cases and a courtroom with cells below. Het Posthuys was originally used as a lookout post for enemy ships entering False Bay, and is also part of the museum complex.
Opening times: Monday - Friday: 8am – 3:30pm, Saturday: 9am - 1pm, Sunday: 2pm - 5pm.
186 Main Road | Muizenberg | +27 (0)21 788 7035
Warrior Toy Museum
This toy museum has a permanent display of 4000 model cars, 500 dolls and teddy bears, miniature dolls houses and rooms, two fully operating railroads, lead soldier displays, Meccano, ships and many other miscellaneous toys and models.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 4pm
St George’s Street (next to the Town Hall) | Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 1395
Hout Bay Museum
Tucked away in a fynbos garden setting and behind the Shell Garage on Main Road, the Hout Bay Museum provides a wealth of memories and information about the town’s past and explains how it grew into a thriving fishing village. Opening times: Monday - Thursday: 8am – 4:30pm, Friday: 8am - 4pm.
4 Andrews Road | Hout Bay | +27 (0)21 790 3270
Simon’s Town Museum
The museum is housed in ‘The Residency’, which was built in 1777 as the winter residence for the Dutch East India Company Governor at the Cape. Collections and exhibits feature the cultural history of the people of Simon’s Town and their connections with the Dutch East India Company and the Royal Navy.
Opening times: Monday - Friday: 10am - 4pm, Saturday: 10am - 1pm, closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
The Residency | Court Road | Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 3046
The South African Air Force Museum
Visit the SAAF Museum to view their collection of articles, records and artefacts about their heritage and traditions. Learn about military aviation and its history in South Africa.
Opening times: Monday to Friday: 6:30am – 3pm, Saturday: 8:30am – 12:30pm, closed on Sunday and public holidays.
Piet Grobler Road | Ysterplaat | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 508 6576
The Heart Transplant Museum
This museum honours all those who played a major role in the world’s first heart transplant, which was lead by Professor Christiaan Neethling Barnard at the Groote Schuur Hospital, in 1967. The museum has eight rooms, which pay tribute to the process and those involved.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 9am - 7pm, tours take place every two hours and need to be booked.
Groote Schuur Hospital | Main Road | Hospital Road | Observatory | +27 (0)21 404 1967
Groot Constantia Museum
Providing insight into the life of 18th to early 20th century successful Cape farmer, the displays include exhibitions of furniture, paintings, textiles, carriages, wine storage and drinking vessels. The Orientation Centre uses panel, object and archaeological displays to give an overview of past to present, including slavery on the estate. The building dates back to 1685, making it one of the oldest wine farms in the country.
Opening times: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 5pm, closed on Christmas Day and Worker’s Day.
Groot Constantia Estate | Constantia Main Road | +27 (0)21 795 5140
Irma Stern Museum
This museum was established in the house she lived in for almost 40 years with several of the rooms left as she had arranged them. The permanent collection displays her growth as an artist, whilst the lively temporary exhibition is held annually in the garden. The house is also used as an exhibition space for other local artists.
Opening times: Tuesday - Friday: 10am - 5pm, Saturday: 10am - 2pm.
Cecil Road | Rosebank | Southern Suburbs | +27 (0)21 685 5686
Franschhoek Motor Museum
Visitors are invited to look back at over 100 years of motoring history, with its unique collection of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and memorabilia. The collection exceeds 220 vehicles, ranging from an 1898 Beeston motor tricycle to a 2003 Ferrari Enzo supercar.
Opening times: Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm, Saturday - Sunday: 10am - 4pm. Bookings are advised.
Anthony Rupert Wines | L'Ormarins | Off R45 | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 874 9000
The Afrikaans Language Museum
Once home to the Association for True Afrikaners (ATA), the Afrikaans Language Museum is set in a two-storey, Georgian style house. Visitors can trace the shaping, the story and the personalities of the language, as well as see an authentic printing machine. Test your knowledge, purchase a souvenir or enjoy the games, sound tracks and interactive displays.
Opening times: Monday - Friday: 9am - 4pm, closed on weekends, public holidays, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
11 Pastorie Avenue | Paarl | +27 (0)21 872 3441
If your kids are a bit too energetic for museums then let them burn off some of their excess energy with these adventure activities.
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