Africa has had plenty of news coverage in recent months, from the ongoing life and death struggle of albinos and witchcraft to the most recent scandal of your favorite musician to protests of the abduction and killing of a lawyer trying to defend a man and his rights. Africa is often thought of as a far off “exotic” place, where you can hunt big game, ride elephants, and tour the outback, but Africa is also an emerging continent with budding artists, a rich history, and outstanding architecture.
Visiting Africa will surely require an extended stay to fully experience the culture, atmosphere, and overall ambiance of this great continent, and if you are planning a trip to the cradle of mankind, don’t forget the sophisticated side of Africa and plan a trip to visit the best local museums and art galleries.
Top 5 Museums
Museum Africa -Located in the Newton district of Johannesburg, South Africa, this museum houses some of the best early African artifacts, paintings, photographs, and musical instruments in the area.
Aparthied Museum – Just around the corner from Museum Africa, the Apartheid Museum offers the most comprehensive historical storytelling of Africa with permanent exhibitions such as:
- The Pillars of the Constitution
- Race Classifications
National Museum of Tanzania -comprised of five different museums to showcase the history and natural environment of the country, the Dar es Salaam National Museum, was recently showcased on Lonely Planet offering a bit of insight into the vintage collection and staple archaeological finds of the area.
Karen Blixen Museum – This museum is open to the public and offers a more intimate view of Kenyan history. After being used in the movie ‘Out of Africa’ this coffee plantation offers authentic décor, grounds tours, and a gift shop.
Drostdy Museum – Last but not least is the Drostdy Museum located in Swellengrebel, South Africa, this historical landmark offers rotating exhibitions, a mill, outdoor oven, and the Dutch/African history of the time.
Top 5 Art Galleries
National Museum Bloemfontein – dedicated to artists, history, and culture, this art museum offers both standing exhibitions and rotating exhibits to give visitors a fresh experience. Combined with various learning programs, a library, and research department, the National Museum Bloemfontein has something for everyone.
Iziko Museum of Cape Town – this museum offers a wide range of historical art exhibits including traditional African art, contemporary art, and photography. Current exhibitions showcase various artists including ‘Nature’s Best Photography Africa’, ‘The Art of Disruption’, and ‘Red in the Rainbow’. Iziko Museum also offers in house studios for artists to use the museum as an active working studio adding to the rich culture and environment of this museum.
Johannesburg Art Gallery – After visiting the Museum Africa, don’t forget to stop by this top art museum offering authentic African art, sculptures, and multi-media. Johannesburg Art Gallery opened in 1910 and has been offering rich history lessons to the public for over 100 years.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum – Located in Port Elizabeth, this outstanding museum offers early art collections from the 1800s, bead work, contemporary art, and a wide range of influential works such as British and Asian pieces. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum also offers education programs, a conservation department, and gift shop to commemorate your visit.
Unisa Art Gallery – boasting a large collection of contemporary South African and international art, the Unisa Art Gallery opened its doors in the early 1960’s without restriction to collection guidelines, making this gallery one of the most unique in the area.
Visiting Africa can be a life changing event, and taking the time to learn about the history, culture, and art of the continent during your visit can enhance your appreciation of the vast continent while still allowing you plenty of time to mark off all your bucket list items. So if you are planning a visit to Africa, be sure to add some of the top museum and art galleries to your itinerary.