For the final instalment of the series looking at museums across the globe, this article is dedicated to some of the prominent art museums of Africa. There are of course far too many to cover in one blog, but this art odyssey will uncover five incredibly interesting museums from Marrakech to Cape Town.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), Cape Town, South Africa
Opened just under a year ago in September, 2017, Zeitz MOCAA is a not-for-profit art museum dedicated to 21st century African art and artists. Housed in a renovated grain silo complex, the museum touts an impressive one hundred galleries across nine floors, making it the largest modern art museum in Africa. Many of the artworks on display are from the private collection of Jochen Zeitz, the former CEO of Puma and the museum’s namesake.
Considered one of the leading collections of modern art by African artists, the museum includes works by prominent artists including Julie Mehretu, Kudzanai Chiurai, Glenn Ligon, Kehinde Wiley, Chris Ofili, Wangechi Mutu, Chéri Samba, Banele Khoza and sculptor El Anatsui. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also showcases temporary collections and hosts international exhibitions.
Located in the V&A Waterfront, the museum is open every day except Tuesdays and admission is R180. Click here to learn more about the artists’ work on display
The Museum of Marrakech, Marrakech, Morocco
Housed within the Dar Menebhi Palace in the Medina, the old center of Marrakech, the architecture of this museum is perhaps the greatest work of art on display here. Built in the late nineteenth century, the palace was the private residence of Mehdi Mnebhi, Morocco’s Defense Minister before the colonial era. After independence, the building was acquired by the state and in 1965 it became home to the city’s first girls’ school. In 1997, the Omar Benjelloun Foundation bought the palace and after careful restoration it was opened as the Marrakech Museum.
The palace is an exquisite example of Andalusian architecture centered on a lavish inner courtyard, adorned with stained-glass windows, intricate tile work, carvings, ornamental pillars and fountains. The central atrium and surrounding rooms house a number of galleries including modern and traditional Moroccan art, along with collections of artefacts including historical books, calligraphy, coins, weapons, ceramics and other traditional Moroccan objects. Visitors can also explore the palace’s traditional hammam and kitchen.
The museum is open daily from 9am – 6:30pm and admission is 50 Moroccan Dirhams.
Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt
The Al-Matḥaf al-Miṣrī or Egyptian Museum, is a museum of Egyptian antiquities founded in the 19th century by French Egyptologist August Mariette. Originally located in Giza, the museum was moved to its current site in Tahrir Square in Cairo in 1902, where today it is recognized as the most valuable collection of Egyptian antiquities in the world.
The museum includes over 100,000 objects spanning the entire history of Egyptian civilization, although the main focus of this collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts is the extraordinary Pharaonic Era. The museum displays thousands of treasures from the tombs of the great pharaohs, with some 1,700 from the tomb of Tutankhamun alone. The rich collection includes artworks, jewelry, everyday objects, reliefs, sarcophagi and even the mummies from a number of tombs of the kings and queens of Egypt, with one of the most prized objects being Tutankhamen’s solid-gold mask. In addition to the contents of the tombs of the pharaohs are a number of massive statues of various kings and queens.
A trip to Cairo is simply not complete without a visit to The Egyptian Museum, where thousands of years of history is on display in one of the world’s richest museums. The museum is open daily and tickets cost LE180.
The Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi, Kenya
Located in the country’s vibrant capital, The Nairobi National Museum is the perfect place to gain an understanding of the history of Kenya. Founded in 1910 by a naturalist group, the museum is today located on museum hill in and houses permanent and temporary collections of not only nature, but also history, culture and contemporary art.
The Nairobi National Museum showcases a large collection of ethnographic artifacts including tools, weapons, everyday items, furniture and other objects that tell the story of many ethnic Kenyan and East African communities. With exhibitions such as Cycles of Life and Cradle of Humankind to the Hall of Mammals and an extensive art gallery, visitors can explore the rich tapestry of Kenya’s history from prehistoric times through to modern day.
In addition to the museum and art gallery, the Nairobi National Museum also boasts gorgeous botanical gardens, a nature trail, and shopping and dining outlets. The museum is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30pm. For more information, visit www.museums.or.ke
The South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
From humble beginnings of just 45 paintings, the Iziko South African National Gallery has grown into one of the premier collections of South African, African, Dutch, British and French art. The permanent collection houses a number of leading British artists including works by Michael Porter, Gary Wragg and John Walker, although the gallery’s focus on contemporary South African art has seen the collection grow to include 3,000 South African works reflecting the history and culture of the last century.
In addition to a rich collection of indigenous sculpture and beadwork, the permanent collection includes paintings, photography, new media, and textiles, with selections within the permanent collection changing regularly to accommodate temporary exhibitions. The art collections include African Art, Modern Painting and Sculpture, Historical Painting and Sculpture Collections, Contemporary Collection, Prints & Drawings and Photography & New Media.
The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm and admission is R30. To learn more about the art collections click here.