Johannesburg is South Africa’s largest city, and with roughly 2.5 million international tourists each year, it is also the second most visited city on the entire continent. However, that doesn’t mean Johannesburg doesn’t have a world of wealth and wonder to offer the resident South African. Whether you live in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg has plenty to see and do. In many ways, the city embodies a South African’s ideal vacation. Nowhere is this reality more evident than in the city’s fantastic and diverse museums. Check out our selection of must-see Museums in Johannesburg below:
AECI Dynamite Factory Museum
Located in Kempton Park, the AECI Dynamite Factory Museum is exactly what it sounds like. Housed in the late 19th century home of a former mining official, the museum offers insight into the history of the production and utilization of explosives, with a special emphasis given to the use of explosives in the South African mining industry — a primary source of South Africa’s development and economic success. If you like history and explosions, this museum is a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Adler Museum of Medicine
Dr. Cyril Adler is responsible for the creation of the area’s museum of medicine, and it exists in order to preserve materials and artefacts that highlight the history and development of medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and optometry around the world and in South Africa, in particular. The museum has a host of fascinating medical instruments, displays, photos, documents, video and more at which visitors can marvel. From an early iron lung to a recreation of an African herb shop, you’ll become grateful medicine has advanced.
The Origins Centre is a fascinating look at the beginnings of humankind. From the African cradle of human evolution to the development of art, civilization, industry, colonialism and technology, the Origins Centre showcases how the people of the African continent find themselves as themselves in the 21st century. Displays show everything from the earliest image made by humans — found here in South Africa — to the oldest known human ritual: the San/Bushman trance dance.
The only natural history museum in the city, the Zoology Museum was founded in 1922 by the first head of the Zoology Department at Wits University: Professor Fantham. A firm believer in the necessity of a good teaching collection, it is to his credit that so many fine specimens, skeletons, slides and the like were purchased over the years so that the museum now boasts over 60,000 pieces. Today, the museum has an impressive library, theatres and teaching labs, but its primary appeal is in its collection and the way it is displayed: Finely made teak cabinets house the specimens, which allows for a much more intimate viewing experience for visitors.
The Apartheid Museum
A complex of museums, the Apartheid Museum opened in 2001, and it seeks to preserve and tell the history of apartheid in South Africa during the 20th century. Twenty-two separate exhibits have been assembled and organized by curators, filmmakers, designers and historians. With film footage, photographs, artefacts and installations, the museum seeks to tell the stories of the South African people as they sought to live within — and overcome — the state system of racial discrimination.
Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum
Located in Soweto, the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum seeks to memorialize the 566 people who died following what started as peaceful protests by high school students against apartheid on June 16, 1976. Hector Pieterson, a 12-year-old boy, was the first person to be shot as the protests turned violent upon meeting police. He was killed just a few blocks from where the museum and memorial are located. The museum seeks to preserve the stories and memories of the protest and uprising through oral testimonies, photos, audio-visual displays, artefacts and historical documents. It seeks to both remember the dead and celebrate the role that students played in the struggle against apartheid.
SAB World of Beer
Not just for beer lovers, the SAB World of Beer is a remarkable showcase of brewing history and technique that follows the origins of beer all the way from ancient Mesopotamia to Africa and Europe and on to the rest of the world. Visitors can follow the happy, drunken history of beer from its humble origins all the way to a salty pub in Johannesburg’s old mining days. There is a greenhouse on-site where all the ingredients needed to make beer are grown, and the museum also features films, audio, photographs and a taproom, so you and your friends can enjoy a beer at the end of your time at the SAB World of Beer.
So whether you’re a Joburg local, from another city in SA or travelling to South Africa from abroad, treat yourself to some time in one of Johannesburg’s fantastic museums. Book your flights to Johannesburg now with FlighSite for the cheapest airfares in SA!