Ditsong Museums of South Africa
The DITSONG Museums of South Africa is an amalgamation of eight national museums, seven in Tshwane and one in Johannesburg. DITSONG MUSEUMS have diverse collections covering the fields of fauna and flora, palaeontology, military history, cultural history, geology, anthropology and archaeology.
Legislative Mandate of DITSONG
The mandate of DITSONG in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act is as follows:
- Collection, conservation and safe management of national heritage collections on behalf of the South African nation.
- Carry out research and publish such information for the cultural, social and economic use locally and internationally.
- Design, implement and manage exhibitions and public programmes with a view to supporting the national educational curriculum, economic development and other socio-economic objectives of the Government.
- Render heritage-based service to other museums (national, provincial, local and private) as well as to individuals and tertiary institutions.
To be a leading African heritage institution of excellence, accessible to all.
To transform and enhance museums and heritage sites as vehicles for nation building and social cohesion through active conservation, innovative research and relevant public programmes for the benefit of present and future generations.
PO Box 4197, Pretoria, 0001 Republic of South Africa
GaMohle Building, 70 WF Nkomo (Church) Street West, Pretoria
Contact numbers: +27 12 000-0010 Fax: +27 12 323-6592
National Museum of Natural History
The Ditsong National Museum of Natural History formerly known as the Transvaal Museum was founded as the Staatsmuseum of the ZAR on the 1st of December 1892. And it has, since then acted as custodian and documentation centre of South Africa’s natural heritage.
The Museum’s collections and exhibits include hominid fossils from the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and associated fauna, including Mrs Ples [the nickname attributed to a fossil skull believed to represent a distant relative of all humankind]; fossils, skeletons, skins and mounted specimens of amphibians, fish, invertebrates, reptiles and mammals. On these collections are based the Museum’s educational programmes, research is done and information is communicated to all people of South Africa as well as to the international community.
The Ditsong National Museum of Natrural History is the only natural history museum in Gauteng and one of the largest in South Africa. It is unique in that it is the only institute in South Africa that offers the local, national and international community the opportunity to view its collections including original fossil material usually denied the public.
Physical Address: 432 Paul Kruger Street Pretoria 0001
Contact numbers: 012 322 7632
Opening hours: Daily: 08:00 – 16:00 (Except Christmas Day and Good Friday)
National Museum of Cultural History
The National Cultural History Museum explores South Africa’s cultural diversity in various permanent and temporary exhibitions. Exhibitions include rock paintings and engravings of the San people; thousand year old Iron Age figurines from Schroda in the Limpopo Province (described as "the best known artifacts indicating ritual behaviour in the Early Iron Age"); the Art Gallery presents an overview of South African culture through time, using cultural objects, crafts, sculpture and paintings and an exhibition on Marabastad is a true example of a cosmopolitan and fully integrated rainbow nation before apartheid.
Physical Address: 149 Visagie Street, Pretoria, 0002
Contact numbers: 012 324 6082
Opening hours: Daily: 08:00 – 16:00
National Museum of Military History
During the First World War (1914 - 1918) no formal showcase was made of South Africa’s involvement in that war. The South African National War Museum was officially opened on 29 August 1947 by the then Prime Minister of South Africa, Field Marshal J C Smuts.
In 1975 the Museum’s name was changed to the South African National Museum of Military History and its scope was expanded to include the history of all military conflict in which South Africans have played a part.
The Museum’s collection is divided into 37 separate categories and cover fields such as ordnance, armoured fighting vehicles, aircraft, medals, uniforms, small arms, edged weapons, barrack & camping equipment, rations, religion, gifts & comforts, military music, graves & memorials, military insignia, communications, medicine, propaganda and vexillology, to name a few. The exhibits include some of the rarest aircraft, firearms,
uniforms, Victoria Crosses and other awards found in the world. The museum library has a unique collection of books, journals and archival material.
PO Box 52090
Tel: +27 010 001 3515
Fax: +27 011 646 5256
The Museum will accept donations of military uniforms, badges, medals, flags etc. Items from the Anglo Boer War, the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Border War and the Struggle Movement are particularly welcome.
Opening Hours: Daily from 09:00 to 16:30 (excluding Good Friday, Christmas Day and the first Sunday in September when the Jazz on the Lake concert is held at Zoo Lake)
The Pioneer Museum in Silverton is a well-known land mark in Pretoria, with the thatched house, built in 1848 by Adolf Machiel Botha on the farm Hartebeestpoort, as its main attraction. This picturesque house, built shortly after the Voortrekkers established themselves in the vicinity, is the last remaining thatched dwelling representing the style of housing of this early period in the Apies River region.
In 1900 a modern Victorian house was built next to the original thatched dwelling. An interesting fact is that in time, the modern house disappeared, while the simple dwelling, donated to the Silverton City Council in 1961 By Mrs JL Mundt, a daughter-in-law of Hans Heinrich Mundt, survived as the original thatched Voortrekker house in Pretoria.
On 5 November 1975, Nico Diedericks, the then State President, opened the Pioneer Open Air Museum with the restored house, which has since been declared a national monument.
Tel: 012 813 8006
Cell: 072 323 9758
Office Hours: Mon-Fri: 07:30-16:00
Public holidays/ Saturdays/ Sundays: 09:00-16:00
Sammy Marks Museum
Sammy Marks Museum is situated on the farm Zwartkoppies east of Pretoria. This Victorian mansion was the
residence of the Jewish industrialist and entrepreneur Sammy Marks (1844-1920) who made significant contributions to the industrial, mining and agricultural development of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (the old Transvaal). The Museum is set in a magnificent park-like garden and houses the unique collection of Victoriana and personal effects of Sammy Marks and his wife, Bertha.
Zwartkoppies Hall is the Victorian mansion where businessman and entrepreneur Sammy Marks and his family lived from 1885 to 1909, after which it became a weekend retreat. After his death his widow and children inhabited it until the death of the last one in 1978.
In 1980 the National Cultural History and Open-air Museum asked the Marks trust whether it could purchase 40 hectares of Zwartkoppies as a site for an open-air museum. Neill Maisels, eldest grandson and chairperson of the Trust, explained the conditions of the will and suggested instead that the Museum leases the house and surrounding ground and purchase the contents. The Museum did not have enough money to do that. Mendel Kaplan, Johannesburg businessman, planned to transfer Sammy’s private papers to the UCT and heard about the Museum project. He offered to donate half the money to the museum through his family foundation and negotiations could continue. Eventually the Museum was opened in November 1986. In March 1989 Zwartkoppies was declared a national monument.
Physical address: The Museum is situated 23 km from Church Square in Pretoria on the Old Bronkhorstspruit Road, Donkerhoek, Kungwini.
Tel: 012 755 9541
Cell: 083 280 3797
Opening hours: Tuesdays till Fridays: 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 14:30, 16:00
Weekends and Public holidays: every hour on the hour from 10:00, last tour at 16:00
Tswaing Meteorite Crater
Approximately 220 000 years ago a blazing stony meteorite the size of half a football field slammed into the earth’s crust. The impact formed a huge crater, 1.4 km in diameter and 200 m deep. This crater is one of the best-preserved meteorite impact craters in the world.
The name Tswaing means Place of Salt in Setswane, and refers to a saline lake that covers the crater floor. From 1912 to 1950 an industry producing soda ash and salt was based at the crater.
Today, Tswaing is a 2 000-ha conservation area with the focus on conservation of the natural heritage, although the cultural heritage (mining, farming and oral histories) also features. Major attractions besides the crater are an extensive wetland system; herds of kudu, impala, zebra and many other animal species; a large variety of plant species representing different plant communities typical of the Sourish-Mixed Bushveld, and the 240-odd species of birds found at this site.
It was only during the later Iron Age that people came to Tswaing, approximately 800 years ago. Pieces from decorated clay pots that have been found on the crater floor, indicate the presence of early Sotho or Tswana peoples. The lake’s salt and soda also attracted white hunters and settlers, who demarcated the area into a farm and named it Zoutpan. Because of its significance as an important source of salt and soda, it became state property in 1876.
The former National Cultural History Museum took over a portion of the farm Zoutpan from the Department of Agriculture in 1993 to develop it into an ecotourism destination for environmental education, recreation and research. This new entity became the Tswaing Meteorite Crater Museum.
Major attractions, besides the crater, are an extensive wetland system, the large variety of plant species of the Sourish-Mixed Bushveld, and 240 species of birds. From the start, the Tswaing project has invited community participation in its planning and development. Local communities have already benefited from the Museum project through job creation, skills training, environmental education, income-generating projects and tourism.
Physical Address: Onderstepoort Road ( M35), Soshanguve
Contact numbers: 076 9455 911/ 012 790 2302
Admission: Daily: 07:30 – 14:00
The Kruger Museum was opened in 1934 and declared a national monument in 1936. The museum and its contents bear witness to the powerful personality of the man who lived here as leader of the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (ZAR), at a stormy and unsettling time in the history of the Afrikaner people. Kruger lived here from 1884 until 1900 while he was President of the ZAR.
THE MUSEUM CONSISTS OF THE FOLLOWING COMPONENTS:
The Presidency, as the house was called, was not an official residence but a private home. It has been refurbished to look almost as it did during the time President and Mrs Kruger lived there, based on a thorough study of the available evidence of the original furnishings. The house is an excellent example of the Victorian style of architecture.
Here the focus of the displays is on Paul Kruger as an international statesman. A small number of the international tributes, as well as some of the tokens of sympathy and honour which President Kruger received from different countries during the South African War, are exhibited here.
President Kruger’s rifle, saddle, pocket knife and state coach are also exhibited here. One of the most impressive tributes is the Brattina, which was presented by the Russian people.
The displays here cover President Kruger’s journey into exile from Mozambique to Europe, his train journey through Europe, the houses in which he stayed there and his death in Clarens, Switzerland. There is also a display of the Presidents’ state funeral in Pretoria on 16 December 1904.
This was the President’s private coach. It was used for official visits to Natal and Bloemfontein and during political
campaigns to other parts of the ZAR. The train was also used when Kruger went into exile. He first travelled to
Machadodorp and then crossed the border to Mozambique at Komatipoort. The railway coach was brought to this site by the Department of Public Works in 1952.
Tel: 012 326 9172
Fax: 012 326 9595
Weekdays: 08:30 – 16:30
Weekends and Public Holidays: 09:00 – 16:30
Please Note: The Museum is closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum
The Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum preserves and presents South African agricultural history in a unique manner. The Museum showcases the history of the development of agriculture in South Africa from the Stone Age until 1945. It has a large collection of farming implements, tractors and animal-drawn vehicles. Visitors will find a historic farmyard (1880-1920) with indigenous domesticated farm animals like Nguni and Afrikaner cattle, Colebrook pigs, Painted Persian sheep and indigenous chickens. By prior booking, visitors can see and experience various demonstrations, including candle-making, cow-milking, roasting of coffee beans and baking of bread. Homemade jams, cookies, soap and Ndebele beadwork can be purchased at the Museum farm stall. There are two house museums and two Ndebele homesteads from different eras. The Museum distils and sells its own mampoer and liqueurs. An annual Mampoer Festival takes place at the end of May each year.
Farm Kaalfontein, Rayton
PO Box 677, Rayton 1001
Landline/ Telephone number: 012 7362035/6
Fax number: 012 7362037
E-mail address: email@example.com