Today the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, will open its doors to the public.
The museum will host a four-day grand official opening this Heritage weekend at the V&A Waterfront, with free access to the public.
Two-hour time slots have been allocated to each visitor to fully experience the 6 000 square metres of exhibition space across 80 galleries, with a rooftop sculpture garden, gift shop, restaurant and various reading rooms for visitors on its opening weekend.
The museum stems from a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and Heatherwick Studio, according to V&A Waterfront chief executive David Green.
“To pull something like this off in less than five years that could have taken 15 years, was absolutely astounding.
“We want to get 70 000 children into this museum sketching, excited and learning about art. That’s what it’s all about,” said Green.
Converting an almost 100-year-old grain silo from an industrial shipping facility in Cape Town Harbour into an accessible contemporary art museum was a project that cost more than R500 million.
The board of trustees co-chair, Jochen Zeitz, said they were a not-for-profit cultural institution focused on collecting, preserving, researching and exhibiting cutting-edge contemporary art from Africa.
He was proud of what the project had become and excited about the opening today.
The museum houses a costume institute and centres for photography and curatorial excellence, the moving image, performative practice and art education.
Inside, the pristine white cubes provide gallery spaces not only for the Zeitz museum’s permanent collection, but also for international travelling exhibitions.
The old underground tunnels will be re-engineered to create unusual education and site-specific spaces for artists to engage with the public about the original structure.
Cylindrical lifts rise inside bisected tubes; stairs spiral upwards; and the shafts are capped with strengthened glass that visitors to the museum can walk on, while drawing light down into the building.
The museum’s staff and curators will be around the exhibitions ready to answer questions for visitors.
Executive director and curator Mark Coetzee said: “This museum is a symbol of the confidence we feel about being African and the confidence we feel about our place in the world.
“And that’s what makes this so extraordinary. The importance of this moment and this museum on the African continent is groundbreaking.”
Coetzee said the right to cultural participation and access to the artefacts that represent diverse cultures was the principle behind this magnificent project.
Wesgro, Cape Town and the Western Cape Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency spokesperson Colin Wardle said: “This eagerly anticipated new Cape attraction promises to solidify Cape Town’s position as the continent’s design capital.
“It will also have a profound effect on the local tourism and knowledge economy,” he added.
“The museum is also set to attract potential investors and buyers from across the world who will contribute to economic growth and job creation,” Wardle pointed out.
For those who don’t have a ticket or membership card or have missed out on the free online tickets via Webtickets, there will be tickets available at the door.
Visitors are reminded that the museum requires a ticket, and members need to ensure that they have their cards to gain entry one hour before opening tomorrow, Sunday and Monday.