Museum Africa is Johannesburg’s social and cultural history museum. It is located in what was once the city’s fruit and vegetable market, a large and impressive heritage building that occupies an entire city block. The museum has a large collection of artefacts, of which only a small number are usually on display at any one time. The large museum space is also used to hold regular temporary exhibitions.
Visitors to the museum are greeted by the permanent exhibition, My Culture, which outlines the hundreds of different South African cultural and ethnic groups. How these groups have changed over time and where they originate from is discussed, and visitors are invited to consider how their cultural background may be made up of more factors than they think.
On the top floor of the museum visitors can find the Bensusan Museum of Photography, which displays not only historical photographs, but also historical photographic equipment from the Victorian and Edwardian era. The permanent displays at this unusual museum include rare slides and cameras from the very first days, when polished silver plates and silver chemicals on paper competed for popularity – a far cry from the 21st-century fashion of smartphone photography and Instagram filters.
The Workers' Museum, which is located two blocks away opposite the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, is managed as a branch of Museum Africa. It tells the story of the countless African migrants who came to Johannesburg from across Southern Africa, leaving behind their homes and families to come and work in the city's mines.
Museum Africa also has a very good shop, selling beautiful arts and crafts produced by the non-profit Imbali Visual Literacy Project.
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm