Five places you should visit to celebrate International Museum Day

18 May is International Museum Day, and museums around the country are celebrating with free entrance today. This year’s theme is “Museum and contested histories, saying the unspeakable in museums”, and more than 30 000 museums around the world are expected to take part. The Daily Vox rounds up five of the best ways to remember history this week – why not take the day off and have a look?

1. The Maritime Centre

For all you naval enthusiasts, the Maritime Centre at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is a must-see. From archival collections of photographs and model ships, this is a great place to learn about the South Africa’s relationship with the deep blue sea. One of museum’s gems is their “Last Voyage of the Mendi” exhibition, which details the SS Mendi’s last voyage, in which almost 650 southern African men drowned.

2. The Slave Lodge

The Slave Lodge is in one of Cape Town’s oldest buildings. Over the years, it’s been home to the Old Supreme Court and the Government Offices Building, but it is now a collection of the history of slavery in South Africa. Look out for their latest exhibition on the origins of shweshwe fabric, and its role in the slave trade.

3. The University of Pretoria Museums

The UP Museums are spread out across the university campus, but they don’t only serve university students. This is the home of the famous golden rhino statue of Mapungubwe, considered a symbol of South Africa’s precolonial civilisation. This museum is free year-round so make there’s no reason not to go!

4. The South African Museum

This Cape Town museum was founded in 1825, and contains more than one and a half million scientific specimens. One day is definitely not enough to go through it all, but it’s worth a try. If you’re looking for answers to simple questions like, “What is our place in the universe?” this is a good place to start.

5. The Apartheid Museum

No list of museums would be complete without this one. One of Johannesburg’s most well-known museums, which opened in 2001, takes visitors through apartheid in South Africa and, to a lesser extent, Namibia. They have a plethora of permanent and temporary exhibitions, covering everything from day-to-day life under apartheid, to the legal processes that kept discrimination alive. It’s painful but definitely worth a visit.

Featured image via the Apartheid Museum on Facebook

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