Exploring the museums is a fun and inexpensive way to spend a day, while learning about South Africa’s diverse cultural heritage. Iziko, meaning ‘hearth’ in isiXhosa, is an amalgamation of 11 museums, a planetarium, two libraries and a social history center situated on the ‘museum mile’, a route that begins in the Company’s Garden. Read our guide to Cape Town’s premier museum organisation.
Exhibits include archaeological collections from the Khoi-San and the fossils of early human ancestors; an impressive marine biology collection; rocks and minerals; dinosaur dioramas and a life-size display of African dinosaur fossils — a hit with families. The Planetarium is located inside the museum and provides a great introduction to the Milky Way, hosting shows for children and adults. The Planetarium is currently undergoing a technological upgrade and will be closed until further notice.
Iziko South African National Gallery
Founded in 1871, the South African National Gallery offers unique insights into South Africa’s past and present through a wide range of historical and contemporary artwork. The gallery has acquired a vast collection of African and international artwork, including paintings, sculptures, photography, beadwork, textiles, and works on paper. Every few months, artworks from the permanent collection are selected by curators and displayed in the gallery as part of a temporary exhibition program. Additionally, visitors are treated to the work of established South African artists who exhibit at the gallery on a regular basis.
Government Avenue, Company’s Garden, Cape Town, +27 21 481 3970
Iziko Bertram House
Bertram House is the only remaining example of the English Georgian-style red brick houses that were once common in Cape Town. It was built c. 1839 by the English immigrant and notary John Barker, who named it in memory of his first wife, Ann Bertram Findlay. The house is furnished as the home of a wealthy English family from the 19th century, and contains a beautiful collection of porcelain and furniture bequeathed by Winifred Ann Lidderdale. Bertram House is currently closed for maintenance until further notice
Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town, +27 21 481 3972
Iziko Maritime Centre
The Maritime Centre is situated in the bustling V&A Waterfront, and features an overview of shipping in Cape Town. Here you will find an impressive collection of ship models and artifacts from the era of mail-ships, specifically the Union-Castle Line. A superb collection of photos depicting Table Bay from the 17th to 20th century gives an idea of the development of the harbor, from a small breakwater to the international shipping port it is today.
1st Floor, Union-Castle House, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 405 2880
Iziko Groot Constantia Manor House
We recommend that you reserve a full day for visiting the Groot Constantia Wine Estate, as there are a variety of things to see and do. For starters, the charming Manor House is a must-visit, situated in the center of the picturesque estate. The 300-year-old homestead features an excellent collection of furniture, paintings, textiles, ceramics and copperware, providing insight into the life of a successful 18th to late 19th century Cape farmer. Be sure to stop by the Orientation Center which gives an overview of Groot Constantia from the past to the present, including slavery on the estate. After exploring, relax and enjoy the estate’s award-winning wines and delicious cuisine at either Simon’s Restaurant or the Jonkershuis.
The oldest colonial building in South Africa, the Castle of Good Hope is a fortress built by Dutch colonialists between 1666 and 1679. The pentagonal fort served as the seat of military and government operations for over two centuries, and is a gateway into early life at the Cape. The William Fehr Collection is situated in the Kat — a building that once housed the Cape governor’s residence in the center of the Castle grounds. The exquisite collection consists of paintings, ceramics, and furniture offering insight into the people and landscapes of early colonial South Africa.
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