South Africa Table Mountain

An overview of the Eastern Cape museums
in South Africa

The following is an overview of most of the Eastern Cape museums in South Africa by location, including descriptions, contact details and website addresses, where available.

The Eastern Cape is the second largest of the nine provinces.


The natural diversity of this province is remarkable, ranging from the dry desolate Great Karoo landscape to lush forests, fertile valleys, sandy beaches and the mountainous southern Drakensberg region.

Museums in the Eastern Cape province by location,...




The Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha (Umtata) in the Eastern Cape, close to Qunu where Nelson Mandela spent his childhood and where he is now retired - Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
The Nelson Mandela Museum in Mthatha (Umtata) in the Eastern Cape, close to Qunu where Nelson Mandela spent his childhood and where he is now retired - Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Photo: Rodger Bosch, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com

Adelaide

Ons-Erfenis-Museum is a period house museum whose highlights are a ceramics collection (Wedgewood, Dresden and Staffordshire); yellowwood and stinkwood furniture; silverware, glassware and jewellery.
Eastern Cape province
Queen Street
Tel: (046) 684-0290
Fax: (046) 684-0290
Mon-Fri: 08:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00

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Alice

F S Malan Museum features collections of bead work, wooden sculptures and costumes.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Henderson Hall, First Floor, University of Fort Hare. Tel: (040) 602-2277
Fax: (040) 653-1926
Mon-Fri: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
After hours by appointment

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Aliwal North

The Kerkplein Museum, a component of the Aliwal North Museums Complex, is housed in the old Dutch Reformed Church and comprises an interior display of a street scene with shops and houses and an outdoor display of farm implements.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
cnr Smith and Barkly Streets
Tel: (0551) 2441 / 2289 / 41910
Fax: (0551) 41307 or 2289
Mon-Sat: 09:00-12:00

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Barkly East

Visitors to the Barkly East Museum will be introduced to the history of the Barkly East area and to the furniture, household items and sheep and cattle farming implements once prevalent there. The museum also has a collection of uniforms from the Anglo-Boer War and both World Wars.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
White Street
Tel: (045) 971-0063
Fax: (045) 97-10350
Mon-Fri: 09:00-12:00; 15:00-16:30

Bathurst

Exhibits in the Bathurst Agricultural Museum comprise engines, tractors, wagons, buggies, agricultural machinery and tools, some dating back to British Settlers.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Corner Trappes and Show Ground Roads Tel: (046) 625-0055
Cell: 082 933-1677
Fax: (046) 624-3743
Tues-Fri and Sun: 09:00-16:00
Sat: 09:00-13:00

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Burgersdorp

An old parsonage, two typical Karoo houses, the first theological school and lean-tos in which old wagons and farm implements are displayed comprise the Burgersdorp Cultural Historical Museum.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Tel: (051) 653-1738
Fax: (051) 653-1738
Mon-Fri: 08:00-16:00

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Cathcart

The C M Van Coller Museum is in a turn-of-the-century shop and features early 19th century household items from the Cathcart district.
Cathcart and Main Street
Tel: (045) 843-1737
Tax: (045) 843-1529
Mon, Tues, Th and Fri: 10:00-12:00
Wed: 14:00-16:00

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Cradock

The Great Fish River Museum, housed in the old Dutch Reformed Church parsonage, a national monument dating back to 1849, gives a picture of the way of life of pioneer settlers in the Eastern Cape in 1806 through furniture, ceramics and photographs.
87 High Street
Tel: (048) 881-4509
Fax: (048) 881-1421
Tues-Fri: 08:00-13:00; 14:00-16:00
Sat: 08:00-12:00

Schreiner House, a satellite of Grahamstown's National English Literary Museum, is a typical example of a 19th century Karoo house. It highlights the life and works of the famous South African writer and feminist, Olive Schreiner, who lived here from 1867 to 1870.
9 Cross Street
Web: http://www.places.co.za/html/schreiner.html
Tel: (048) 881-5251
Fax: (048) 881-5251
Mon-Fri: 09:00-12:30; 14:30-16:30

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Dordrecht

The Anderson Museum displays turn-of-the century furniture and clothing, rock art, agriculture and family trees.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Grey Street
Tel: (045) 943-1017
Fax: (045) 943-1966
Mon-Fri: 09:00-12:00

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East London

The East London Museum depicts the natural and cultural history and rich heritage of the region. Best known for the prehistoric coelacanth, the Museum also displays reconstructions of the extinct dodo of Mauritius, along with the only known dodo egg in the world, superb Xhosa beadwork and aspects of German settler history.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
319 Oxford Street
Tel: (043) 743-0686
Fax: (043) 743-3127
Mon-Fri: 09:30-17:00
Sat: 14:30-17:00
Sun: 11:00-16:00
Closed: Good Friday and Christmas Day

The Calgary Transport Museum, a satellite of the East London Museum, features a collection of carts, wagons and handcarts from the Border region, acquired and restored by the late Robin Wells. Also on show are a gypsy caravan, a tack room and a wheelwright's workshop and forge.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
13 km from East London on the Stutterheim (N6) Road
Tel: (0431) 730-7244
09:00-16:00 daily
Closed: Good Friday and Christmas Day

Gately House, a historical monument (1878), is a satellite of the East London Museum. It was the home of John Gately (Mayor of East London several times), his wife Mary Ann, and their twelve children.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
1 Park Gates Road
Tel: (043)722-2141
Tues-Th: 10:00-13:00; F: 10:00-13:00
Weekends: 15:00-17:00
Closed: Mondays, Good Friday and Christmas Day

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Fort Beaufort

The Fort Beaufort Historical Museum displays aspects of the military and domestic life of Victorian times as well as a collection of 19th century Frontier Wars weapons.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
44 Durban Street
Tel: (046) 645-1555
Fax: (046) 645-2082
Mon-Fri: 08:30-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Sat: 08:30-12:45

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Graaf-Reinet

The Graaf-Reinet Museum Complex consists of several elements:

Reinet House is an H-shaped house dating back to 1812 and was originally the home of the Revs Andrew and Charles Murray. It houses a fine collection of period furniture.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Tel: (049) 892-3801
Tax: (049) 892-5650
Mon-Fri: 09:00-12:30; 14:00-17:00
Sat and Sun: 09:00-12:00

At The Old Residency, also an H-shaped house, built in 1819, visitors can see displays of firearms, musical instruments and the history of Graaff-Reinet.
Tel: (049) 892-3801
Fax: (049) 892-5650
Mon-Fri: 08:00-12:30; 14:00-17:00
Sat: 09:00-12:00

The Old Library Museum in the town's first library (1847), houses the Lex Bremner Fossil Collection of Karoo reptile fossils, and a collection of Khoi and San art reproductions.
Tel: (049) 892-3801
Fax: (049) 892-5650
Mon-Fri: 08:00-12:30; 14:00-17:00
Sat and Sun: 09:00-12:00

Urquhart House, which dates back to between 1815 and 1821, exhibits a fine collection of Victorian furniture, a peach-pip kitchen floor, and a Dutch oven. "old" roses bloom in the Victorian garden and the museum also has a genealogical research centre.
Market Square (Adjacent to Reinet House)
Tel: (049) 892-3801
Fax: (049) 892-5650
Mon-Fri: 08:00-12:30; 14:00-17:00
Sat: 09:00-12:00

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Grahamstown

Many of Grahamstown's numerous museums are satellites or components of the Albany Museum Complex.

Fort Selwyn was built in the shape of a seven-pointed star, enabling the maximum number of men and guns to fire from the walls. It houses displays of weapons and portable furniture used by British officers.
Gunfire Hill
Web: http://www.ru.ac.za/departments/am/fort.html
Tel: (046) 622-2312
Fax: (046) 622-2398
E-mail: L.Webley@ru.ac.za
Open during the National Arts Festival in July and by appointment

Exhibits in the History Museum, a component of the Albany Museum Complex; formerly the 1820 Settlers Memorial Museum, focus on the history and lifestyles of the peoples of the Eastern Cape from 1710 to 1910.
Somerset Street
Web: http://www.ru.ac.za/departments/am/histmus.html
Tel: (046) 622-2312
Fax: (046) 622-2398
E-mail: L.Webley@ru.ac.za
Mon-Fri: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Weekend: 14:00-17:00 except Christmas Day and Good Friday

The Natural Sciences Museum dates back to 1855 and is the second oldest museum in the country. It exhibits the first dinosaur discovery in SA, a working Foucalt pendulum, an Egyptian mummy, birds, mammals, shells, and a water gallery.
Somerset Street
Web: http://www.ru.ac.za/departments/am/natsci.html
Tel: (046) 622-2312
Fax: (046) 622-2398
E-mail: L.Webley@ru.ac.za
Mon-Fri: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Weekends: 14:00-17:00
Closed: Good Friday and Christmas Day

The Observatory Museum, housed in a 19th century jeweller's shop and family home, depicts the lifestyle of a well-to-do Victorian family. It is home to the only genuine Victorian Camera Obscura in the Southern Hemisphere. Operating in a dark room, it shows Grahamstown as a miniature moving picture house.
10 Bathurst Street
Web: http://www.ru.ac.za/departments/am/obs.html
Tel: (046) 622-2312
Fax: (046) 622-2398
E-mail: L.Webley@ru.ac.za
Mon-Fri: 09:30-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Sat: 09:00-13:00
Closed: Good Friday and Christmas Day

The Provost Prison was built in 1835 to house military prisoners. Its unique design is based on the 18th century "Panopticon" system for the "ceaseless surveillance" of prisoners from the windows of the central tower.
Lucas Avenue
Web: http://www.ru.ac.za/departments/am/prov.html
Tel: (046) 622-2312
Fax: (046) 622-2398
E-mail: L.Webley@ru.ac.za
By appointment

The International Library of African Music houses a collection of traditional southern African recordings and musical instruments. It includes a library, archive, lecture room and an open-air theatre.
Rhodes University, Prince Alfred Street (Follow ILAM signs from gate opposite Rhodes University Theatre)
Tel: (046) 603-8557
Fax: (046) 622-5049
E-mail: ilat@giraffe.ru.ac.za
Mon-Fri: 08:30-12:45; 14:15-17:00

TheJ L B Smith Institute of Ichthyology is the leading centre for the study of fishes in southern Africa. The story of the coelacanth is told in a display in the foyer where there is also a marine aquarium.
Somerset Street
Tel: (046) 636-1002
Fax: (046) 622-2403
Mon-Fri: 08:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00

The National English Literary Museum was established to promote the reading and appreciation of all forms of creative South African literature written in English. Temporary displays focus on various writers, literary periods or themes. Highlights of the museum's collection are the Thomas Pringle Papers, the Sir Percy FitzPatrick archive, and the papers of Roy Campbell, Athol Fugard, Johannes Meintjes, and Barney Simon.
87 Beaufort Street
Tel: (046) 622-7042
Fax: (046) 622-2582
E-mail: nemh@hippo.ru.ac.za
By appointment.

Visitors to the Eastern Star Gallery, a satellite of the National English Literary Museum, can see printing machinery and other historical items relating to printing, including John Fairbairn's editorial desk.
4 Anglo African Street (off High Street)
Tel: (046) 622-2704
Fax: (046) 622-2582

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Humansdorp

The Humansdorp Museum, a cultural history museum, focuses on the growth and development of Humansdorp through its display of farming implements, bottles, shells, clothing and crockery. It also features a restored water mill.
17 Bureau Street
Tel: (042) 291-0625
Fax: (042) 295-1993
Mon-Fri: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-16:00

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King William's Town

The Amathole Museum (originally the Kaffrarian) was started in 1884 and is the sixth oldest museum in South Africa. It focuses on local history, German settler history, Xhosa ethnography and anthropology and it also has an exhibition of mammals and on a South African animal legend - Huberta the Hippo.
cnr Alexandra and Albert Roads
Tel: (043) 642-4506
Fax: (043) 642-1569
Mon-Fri: 09:00-13:00; 13:45-16:30
Sat: 10:00-12:30

The Missionary Museum exhibits the missionary history of the area and beyond, displaying many facets of missionary life and the work of all denominations.
Tel: (043) 642-4506
Fax: (043) 642-1569
Mon-Fri: 09:00-13:00; 13:45-16:45
Weekends and Public Holidays: closed

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Lady Grey

The Lady Grey Museum is situated in a Victorian building which housed the "Poor School" between 1898 and 1914. Its exhibits focus on celebrities such as Athol Fugard and Tiro Vorster who have roots in the Middelburg.
Lady Grey Tourism Association
Tel: (051) 603-1114

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Nieu Bethesda

The Owl House, its walls covered with mirrors and ground glass, was the home of the eccentric mystic Helen Martins (1898-1976) who was immortalised by Athol Fugard in his play The Road to Mecca. Her creative talent is displayed in the Camel Yard where statues of camels, wise men, churches and mermaids, all created from broken bottles, fragments of mirror and cement, turn the space into a fantasy world.
River Street
Tel: (049) 841-1642
Fax: (049) 841-1642
Mon-Sun: 09:0-17:00
Closed: Christmas Day

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Port Alfred

The Kowie History Museum concentrates on local social history with an emphasis on the period 1820-89. Displays include the Briseis (wrecked 1859), the Xhosa, and marine shells.
Pascoe Crescent, East Bank.
Tel: (046) 624-4713.
Tues-Sat: 10:00-13:00

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Port Elizabeth

Bayworld, formerly the Port Elizabeth Museum, offers a variety of live animal displays, including dolphins, seals, penguins, fish, snakes and crocodiles. Historical exhibits include shipwrecks, dinosaurs, Xhosa beadwork, historical costumes and local fossils.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Beach Road
Tel: (041) 586-1051
Fax: (041) 586-2175
E-mail: svanzyl@icon.co.za
Museum: 09:00-17:00
Oceanarium: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-16:30
Snake Park: 09:00-13:00; 14:00-16:30
Closed: Christmas Day

Bayworld has a number of components and satellites:

No 7 Castle Hill is a historical settler house (c. 1830), furnished in the style of the mid 19th century. Its collection includes furniture, domestic items, ceramics, royal commemoratives, crested china, dolls and toys, luggage, and pictures.
7 Castle Hill, Central Hill
Tel: (041) 582-2515
Fax: (041) 586-4962
Tues-Sat and Public Holidays: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Mon and Sun: 14:00-17:00
Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day

Prince Alfred's Guard Museum houses a military exhibit in a Victorian Drill Hall (1880), a national monument and one of the finest surviving examples of its type.
PAG Drill Hall, Prospect Hill, Central
Tel: (041) 505-1224 / 1251
Fax: (041) 56-2175
Mon, Tues and Th: by appointment
Wed: 10:00-13:00
Fri: 10:00-16:00

The South African Air Force Museum, a satellite of the SAAF Museum, Swartkop, Pretoria, focuses on military aviation. Exhibits include Mirage F1 CZ, Atlas Kudu, Impala, Westland Scout, Bell 47,2 x Harvard and Bosbok aircraft and other related exhibits. A research library is available.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Forest Hill Drive, Southern section of the Port Elizabeth Airport Reserve
Tel: (041) 505-1295
Fax: (041) 505-1403
Mon-Fri: 08:00-15:00
Sun: 10:00-16:90
Sat and Public Holidays: Closed

The St Croix Motor Museum features more than 80 vehicles, the earliest of which is a 1916 model. The vehicles are taken on the roads in and around Port Elizabeth once a month. The museum has a fully equipped restoration workshop and a library.
Mowbray Street Newton Park
Tel: (041) 392-5362
Fax: (041) 392-5364
By appointment

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Port St. Johns

The Port St Johns Branch of the Umtata Museum is housed in the old Free Mason Lodge. It features the cultural history of the local people and local natural history (birds and mammals).
Golf Course Drive
Tel: (0475) 44-1265
Fax: (0471) 312816
M-F: 08:00-16:30
Closed Weekends and Public Holidays

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Queenstown

The Queenstown and Frontier Museum is housed in a national monument. Its main focus is on the history of Queenstown and surrounding districts and it includes a large telephone and medical equipment collection and some natural history.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
13 Shepstone Street
Tel: (0451)5860
Fax: (0451)5860
Mon-Fri: 08:00-12:45; 14:00-16:00
Weekends: on request

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Somerset East

The Somerset East Museum is housed in a Georgian manor house which had been a parsonage for 105 years. A period house museum (late 19th early 20th century), among its attractions are a Victorian herb garden, more than 700 roses, a blacksmith's shop, and the town's oldest cemetery.
Beaufort Street
Tel: (042) 243-2079
Fax: (042) 243-2079
Mon-Fri: 08:00-13:00; 14:00-17:00
Weekends: by appointment

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Sterkstroom

The Sterkstroom Museum is an old fashioned shop with a collection of crockery, household items, kitchenware and buttermaking tools. It also features the history of Sterkstroom and an agricultural exhibition.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
34 Van Zyl Street, Sterkstroom, 5425
Tel: (04592) 188
Fax: (04592) 188 Summer: Mon-Fri: 08:00-16:00
Winter: Mon-Fri: 08:30-16:30
Sat: by appointment

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Uitenhage

The Uitenhage Historical Museum Complex has several components:

The Cuyler Manor Farm Museum complex is housed in a Cape Dutch manor home, circa 1814, which belonged to General Jacob Glen Cuyler. The exhibit depicts the early lifestyle of the people of the Eastern Province.
Old Uitenhage/Port Elizabeth Road
Tel: (041) 922-0372
Fax: (041) 992-2083
Mon-Fri: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-16:30

The Drostdy Museum, occupies a Cape Dutch style building, circa 1809. Its focus is on the historical development and growth of Uitenhage and the surrounding districts through furniture, clothing and household items. It also has an archive library.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
50 Caledon Street
Tel: (041) 992-2063
Fax: (041) 992-2083
Mon-Fri: 10:00-16:300

The Station Museum, housed in the original railway station, depicts the Victorian lifestyle of the period. It also portrays railway history through a display of steam locomotives, rolling stock and luggage.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Market Street
Tel: (041) 922-8210
Fax: (041) 992-2083
Tues-Th: 10:00-13:00; 14:00-16:30

Beetle lovers will enjoy the Volkswagen Motor Museum with its display of vehicles made at the local Volkswagen factory, from the first models (1932) to the last "Beetle" to come off the local assembly line.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
50 Caledon Street
Tel: (041) 992-2063
Fax: (041) 992-2083
Mon-Fri: 10:00-16:00

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Umtata

The Umtata Museum, in the Old Post Office building, features displays of cultural and natural history, local birds, mammals, geology, archaeology, a beadwork collection and old photographs.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Cnr. York Road and Victoria Street
Tel: (0471) 31-2427
Fax: (0471) 31-2816
Mon-Fri: 08:00-16:30

In the Kaya Lendaba Arts and Cultural Village in the Shamwari Game Reserve visitors can observe rituals; be introduced to healing by means of indigenous plants; visit a healing cave; attend discussions about bones of divination and African astrology, and study alternative medicine.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Web: http://www.places.co.za/html/kaya_lendaba.html
Tel: (042) 851-1196
Fax: (042) 851-1224

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Mount Frere

The Isinamva Cultural Village is an authentic inhabited Xhosa village, where visitors spend a day listening to storytelling, visiting healers and development projects, doing daily household chores, and so on.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Cell: (083) 659-8491

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Mooiplaas

At the Khaya la Bantu Cultural Village, a Xhosa homestead on a working farm, visitors can learn about Xhosa culture through guides who act as interpreters.
Eastern Cape Museums in South Africa
Tel: (0431) 851-1011
Fax: (0431) 851-1011
By appointment






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Aerial view of Cape Town and Table Mountain in South Africa

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