Discover a wealth of art and artifacts celebrating South Africa’s cultural diversity at the National Museum of Cultural History. Find everything from millennia-old rock art and ancient archaeological objects to displays of manuscripts, photographs and sculptures. The museum is housed in Pretoria’s Old Mint building. It is one of eight Gauteng-based museums and cultural centers collectively known as the Ditsong Museums.
Investigate the skeletons of prehistoric animals outside the museum’s main entrance. Then step inside to explore its wide-ranging exhibits. See displays of Stone Age tools, admire examples of Cape Dutch furniture and look for traditional tribal crafts such as embroidery and weaving. The vast taxidermy exhibit features displays of native wildlife, both endemic and endangered.
Don’t miss the rock paintings and carvings by the San people, one of the first groups to inhabit South Africa. The shamanic scenes represent their ascension to the spiritual world through trance dance. Another interesting exhibit is the series of Iron Age figurines discovered at the ancient kingdom of Mapungubwe. Learn about the effect of apartheid on the country’s African, Asian and Indian population via displays of newspaper clippings, official documents and photographs.
Enjoy the temporary expositions as well, which highlight worldwide cultures. Previous examples include a display of Egyptian mummies and sculptures from the internationally famous Terracotta Army.
The museum sits on the edge of downtown Pretoria and is close to other major city attractions. Public buses stop a short walk from the museum. For those arriving by car, use the secure parking. Nearby attractions include the Melrose House Museum and Kruger House Museum. After your visit, relax in the tree-shaded Burgers Park.
The National Museum of Cultural History is open daily, except for select public holidays. There is an admission fee. Guided tours in English are available with knowledgeable guides providing historical and artistic perspectives. Find the complete opening hours, admission fees and tour details on the museum’s official website. Ask at the museum’s reception desk for information about the other museums in the Ditsong Museums collection.