The Origins Centre at Wits University, Johannesburg
The Origins Centre Museum at the University of the Witwatersrand is a must see for anyone interested in South Africa’s human heritage and the origins of mankind. It is also a recommended stop before a visit Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves at The Cradle of Humankind north of Johannesburg.
Apart from housing the largest collection of San Bushman Rock Art in the world, the Origins Centre is renowned for its excellent exhibitions.
The museum’s extensive collection of Rock Art is supplied by the the Wits Rock Art Institute, and includes examples of the earliest cave paintings ever found worldwide.
Permanent exhibitions and displays on humankind are world-class and take you through an “extraordinary journey of discovery” beginning with the known origins of humankind in Africa, and continuing on with human development through the ages – from art and symbolism to modern day technology in Africa.
There is an extensive display of rock tools and other artefacts unearthed at the Cradle of Humakind and in other areas of Southern Africa, as well as the bones and skulls of early hominids – the so called ‘ape-man’ ancestors of modern day humans.
San Rock Art exhibitions detail excavations, the history and culture of the San people, their present day descendants in Southern Africa, and attempt interpretation of the incredible amount of rock art and cave paintings that have been found in South Africa, and which can still be found, particularly in the Eastern Free State.
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions, movies and public lectures on topics related to the exhibitions such as the effect of climate on humankind’s development. These lectures are well know among Jozi locals, and described as excellent. Art workshops encourage the creativity that is unique among our species and these exhibitions are also open to the public.
There is also a shop where you can buy African art, crafts and curios – in particular those produced by Ndebele crafter Fikile Mnguni, and a coffee shop for refreshments – perhaps before you go on to enjoy the other public offerings at the University campus – the Johannesburg Planetarium and the brand new Wits Art Museum.
For more info, lecture times and topics: http://www.origins.org.za: Monday to Friday 09h00-17h00.
Getting there: The Wits University campus is situated off Empire Road, in Yale Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
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