Africa is well known for its regal landscapes, beautiful wildlife and ever-jubilant people. However, most recently, Africa added a grand museum to its accolades. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is located in Cape Town, South Africa. Although the museum just opened its doors several days ago, its roots go as far back as 1921 when the museum’s home was the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa. During this time, it served as a source for agricultural advancement, housing the city’s grain silos. Today, the repurposed and redesigned structure sets a standard in the Continent, providing a platform for African artists to display their artworks.
Inspiration of the Museum
The original design of the transformed building is attributed to Thomas Heatherwick, a British architect who was inspired by the grain silos when he first came to Cape Town around twenty years ago. During the construction of the museum, the silos were restructured by slicing and reshaping them into concave structures. It now houses up to six research centers, 100 galleries, a hotel on the top floor and a rooftop garden. The museum is strategically placed, overlooking historic Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
The Collection and Current Key Exhibits
Interestingly, Zeitz MOCAA gets its name from Jochen Zeitz, a man whose name resonates with success as the former CEO of Puma. Zeitz is also a lover of African art, and as such, some of the items at the museum are taken directly from his private collection. The gallery is now home to iimpundulu zonke ziyandilenda, a creation of Nicholas Hlobo in reference to Xhosa mythology. Also in the collection are Mary Sibande, Athi-Patra Ruga, and Penny Siopis. Swati artist Nandipha Mntambo and Zimbabwean Kudzanai Chiurai also add to the breathtaking collection of the museum. Photography as a contemporary art form is also well represented by the likes of Zanele Muholi and William Kentridge.
Though the museum is not without its share of controversy—the principal team behind its creation are all white; the admission fees are prohibitive for many South Africans—with such a rich collection of both temporary and permanent artworks, the museum is already making positive strides as international curators are visiting to make an expansion to their Eurocentric collections.