heritage on display

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

The artefacts at MuseumAfrica will reveal South Africa and Africa's rich history for anyone who takes the time to visit it.

The museum in Newtown, Johannesburg, was established in 1994 and since then it has exhibited cultural collections from across Africa and held memorable exhibitions.

Though the historical and cultural museum is situated right in the heart of Johannesburg's entertainment hub, it seems distant from the black community. And so, for a long time artists have struggled to access the museum to exhibit their crafts.

But that is about to change.

Belinda Hlaka, the museum's operations manager of client services and events, said: "We aim to make it accessible to the community and plan exhibitions for black artists."

Zola Mtshiza, the exhibition curator, said that people do not understand the difference between MuseumAfrica and Johannesburg Gallery.

"Johannesburg Art Gallery focuses on exhibitions and MuseumAfrica collects historical and cultural items. We also feature contemporary exhibitions, which fall within that framework."

Hlaka said that to attract the black community, they host the annual music conference, Moshito.

"We want the community to use the facilities so we have stopped focusing on exhibitions. The venue is now available for seminars, workshops and rehearsals. While hosting Moshito, many people visited the museum."

Aubrey Pitse, the museum's education officer, said that artists who want to exhibit must approach the institution.

"We hope to feature exhibitions that focus on issues such as HIV-Aids, xenophobia, culture, social issues, women abuse and heritage."

He said the new changes will benefit artists.

"Artists who exhibit will feature on the museum's website, which is viewed by people across the world," Pitse said.

The museum is also looking at opening a memory corner to show the origins of black people's traditions and cultures.

An interesting geology section has been added.

Riches buried in the depths of South Africa's soil - its gold, platinum, diamonds and many other minerals - can also be viewed and appreciated at MuseumAfrica.