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LOCAL TIME: 05:45 am | Thursday, 23 November
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Grahamstown Museums

Grahamstown’s profile and character as an artistic and intellectual University town, combined with its rich ‘Frontier Country’ history has created the ideal environment to sustain many libraries and museums. Of these, the Albany Museum Complex offers the most to tourists and casual visitors.

Affiliated with Rhodes University, the Albany Museum Complex in Grahamstown is made up of three individual museums – the Natural Science Museum, the History Museum, the Observatory Museum, and two historical sites – the Provost Prison and Fort Selwyn. The Albany Museum Complex also has an education department that offers programmes in cultural studies, natural science and history, talks, lectures and films for students as well as the general public and walking tours around Grahamstown.

Between them, these museums are said to ‘cover the breadth of the natural and cultural heritage of the Eastern Cape.’ Certainly, while only the Observatory Museum could be pegged a general tourist attraction, Grahamstown’s rich ‘frontier country’, cultural and natural heritage is made available to academic and research levels – pass by, browse or dig as deep as you want…

The Observatory Museum is as much the building as it is the exhibitions inside. This pretty blue 19th century building was once the home of a jeweller and astronomy and sciences enthusiast and features an observatory tower that is also a ‘camera obscura’ – a Victorian era optical device that pre-dated and led directly to the invention of the camera. The camera obscura is the only one on South Africa shows a projection of the city of Grahamstown – with all its colour, perspective and movement intact.

The Observatory Museum also displays a history of diamond mining in South Africa, centred on the discovery of the first Diamond – the Eureka Diamond. Other displays centre on the original owners passion for astronomy and the measuring of time.

The Natural Science Museum features a piece of meteorite, a working Foucault’s pendulum and a reconstruction of the first dinosaur fossil found in South Africa among many displays that cover the natural history of the Eastern Cape from plants, insects and fish through to paleontological discoveries.

The History Museum is focused on the human history of the Eastern Cape, both colonial and indigenous. An additional feature is a ‘classic’ archaeological collection focused on Ancient Egypt, complete with a well preserved Egyptian mummy.

Other museums and libraries in Grahamstown include the International Library of African Music, the National English Literary Museum, the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, the Eastern Star Gallery (media history), and the Cory Library for Historical Research.

 

More info on the town of Grahamstown More info on the Frontier Country area