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Kimberley, Northern Cape, Museums and Art Galleries

Kimberley's Museums, Northern Cape, South Africa

Kimberley was one of the first really big towns to develop in the Cape, after Cape Town. Fuelled by the very profitable diamond mining industry, the magnates invested in everything of the best and have left us with a rich and very interesting canvas of their life and times.

The Kimberley Mine Museum is situated at the biggest hole ever made by man with pick and shovel, so strong was the desire for diamonds. The original mining village has been restored true to its historic background of the 1870’s diamond rush. The Eureka, the first recorded diamond discovered in South Africa, can be viewed at the museum.

You can have fun sifting through diamond bearing gravel, to find your own diamond or experience a diamond mining operation, with blastings, and you will soon feel like a miner. Play skittles in the old bowling alley, or just stroll through the old buildings and soak up the life and times. Food and refreshments are available at the Occidental Bar.

Tucker St: Tel: +27 (0)53 830 4417: Daily: 08:00-18:00: Closed: Good Friday and Christmas Day

Kimberley Africana Museum

Apart from one of the finest collections of Africana, much used for research purposes, the library houses the missionary Robert Moffat’s translation of the Bible into Tswana. (Moffat was the first man to translate the Bible into an African language).

The building housing the Kimberley Africana Library was opened on 23 July 1887. The collection comprises books, manuscripts, maps, photographs and other documentary material on Kimberley, the Diamond Fields, the Northern Cape, archaeology and geology and many thousands of items celebrating the region’s past and its role in the history of South Africa and indeed of Africa. The highlights of the collection are the books, pamphlets in indigenous languages dating from 1826 as well as records by early European travellers to the region and material dealing with the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The Special Collection, primarily of European origin, includes examples of early printing which date from 1475, and manuscripts dating from the 17th century.

63-65 Dutoitspan Road: Tel/fax: +27(0)53 8306247

William Humphrey’s Art Gallery

One of the most important galleries in the country, the WHAG houses a collection of traditional and contemporary South African graphics, sculptures and paintings as well as fine examples of 17th-century Dutch, Flemish, English and French Schools. It hosts many special exhibitions from time to time.

Jan Smuts Boulevard: Phone: +27 (0)53 831 1724/5. Monday to Friday: 08:00-16:45: Saturday: 10:00 -16:45: Sundays & Public holidays: 09:00 – 12:00: Closed: Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day & New Year’s Day.

Sol Plaatje Museum

Sol Plaatje is perhaps the most forgotten of South Africa’s black leaders who exerted a profound influence on our political transition from colony to democracy – and all the exceedingly painful steps in between – but whose legacy seems to have been sadly eclipsed by the generation of iconic African National Congress (ANC) icons such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu who emerged in the 1960s. The museum is very small (only a couple of rooms, plus a reference library) and also houses the Sol Plaatje Educational Trust. In addition to information on the sieges of Mafikeng and Kimberley, the exhibit also has a couple of interesting posters on black and coloured involvement in the Boer War (particularly in the Northern Cape).

Note that this museum is open during office hours on weekdays, but is frustratingly only accessible by appointment over weekends.

32 Angel Street: Phone: 082 804 3266

Kimberley's Museums, Northern Cape, South AfricaMcGregor Museum 

Housed in a gracious building erected in 1897 as a sanatorium and later used by Cecil John Rhodes during the siege of Kimberley, the McGregor Museum features a collection of natural history specimens and Bushman (San) relics. Other exhibits reflect the early history and development of Kimberley, including the most opulent period in the history of the city.

Atlas Street: Phone: +27 (0)53 839 2722/2717: Monday – Saturday 09:00 – 17:00, Sundays 14:00 – 17:00,
Public Holidays 10:00 – 17:00.Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day.

A circular historical walking tour begins and ends at the McGregor Museum. The route provides a glimpse of the affluent lifestyles of those who made their fortunes in early Kimberley, and includes some of the city’s most historic places. A map is available from the Information Office.

Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum – satellite to the McGregor Museum.

Chapel Street:  – +27 (0)53 842 0099

Dunluce – satellite to the McGregor Museum.

An elegant home built in 1897 for Gustav Bonas. It was John Orr’s family home from 1902 to 1975.  It was declared a national monument in 1990. This home may be viewed by appointment with the McGregor Museum.

Built in 1897, Dunluce is one of Kimberley’s most stately homes and an outstanding example of late Victorian domestic architecture. The mansion forms part of the McGregor Museum. Guided tours may be undertaken by appointment at the museum. By appointment only with a guide from the McGregor Museum and only on weekdays.

10 Lodge Road: Tel: +27 (0)53 839 2722

Rudd House – satellite of the McGregor Museum

Formerly the lavish home of HP Rudd, a mining magnate, it was built in 1888. It was restored to its full grandeur by the McGregor Museum. It was declared a national monument in 1990. This house can be viewed by appointment with the McGregor Museum.

5 Loch Road: Phone: +27 (0)53 839 2722

Duggan-Cronin Gallery – satellite to McGregor Museum

An outstanding collection of some 8 000 photographs of the indigenous people of Southern Africa taken between 1919 and 1939 by Alfred Duggan-Cronin, an Irish mine manager who was also an excellent photographer. Labourers were recruited from most of South Africa’s tribal people to work on the mines. In those days, they retained their traditional hairstyles, face markings and clothing, but items have changed and such a unique collection never be compiled again. Historical background is provided.

Egerton Road: Phone: 053 – 839 2722 / 839 2700: By donation: Monday – Friday 09:00 – 17:00: Open on week-ends and Public Holidays by appointment only.

Memorial to the Pioneers of Aviation – satellite to the McGregor Museum

Kimberley was the “nursery” of flying in Southern Africa. On the site of South Africa’s first flying school, established in 1913, the museum features a reconstruction of the original hangar, a replica of the Compton-Peterson biplane used in flight training, and photographs of the early days of aviation. During World War II, many pilots were trained in Kimberley under the Empire Air Training Scheme. The flying school led to the establishment of the South African Air Force. The Pioneers of Aviation Museum stands at the site where the story of aviation in South Africa began and where the first flying school was based. It includes aviation displays and a replica of a Patterson Biplane.

Off the N8 on Gen. van der Spuy Drive: By Donation: Tel: 053 – 839 2722 / 839 2700: Monday – Friday 09:00 – 17:00: Open on week-ends and Public Holidays by appointment only (@ R50 opening fee).

Magersfontein Battlefield – satellite to the McGregor Museum. By appointment only with a guide from the McGregor museum.

This famous Anglo-Boer War battlefield was the scene in December 1899 of a fierce battle between Boers and British soldiers. A field museum containing displays of uniforms, equipment, weapons, documents and photographs relating to the battle is situated on the site. The old Boer trenches can still be seen from the hilltop. The museum has displays on the battle.

Address: ± 30 km off the N8, past the army camps and on the gravel road to Modder River: Tel: 053 – 839 2722 / 839 2700): Open daily (including week-ends) 8:00 – 17:00.

All our museums are closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day

The Kop that stands overlooking the famous battlefield and its trenches has the stunning Highland Brigade Memorial on the peak. One can see over 50kms from the top of the kop. Drives, walks, a fine museum and a restaurant all supplement this destination.

Wonderwerk Cave and Site Museum – satellite to the McGregor Museum.

Wonderwerk Cave is on the eastern side of the Kuruman Hills, which consist mainly of ancient limestone, called dolomite. It is a solution cavity, which was formed millions of years ago as the limestone was dissolved by ground water and which was much later opened at one end by hillside erosion. The tunnel-shaped cave runs horizontally for 139 metres into the base of the hill.

Address: On the R31, between Daniëlskuil and Kuruman (approx. 310km NW of Kimberley by road). Open daily (including week-ends) 8:00 – 17:00. +27 (0)53 712 1036: +27 (0)82 832 7226:

GPS 27°50’46″S 23°33’15″E

The Transport Museum

Has a fine collection of railway memorabilia from the early days of steam locomotion. Kimberley was a main line terminus on the routes to and from Cape Town and the gold fields of the Transvaal. Kimberley’s railway station retains much of its original fabric of stone and cast iron. The museum documents the development of the railways and transport systems of the region, and serves as a tribute to those responsible for these engineering feats, as well as the unsung heroes – Black workers who were not previously honoured for their labour on the railways. On display is a cabin of a real steam locomotive; the
cycle used by the Southern Rhodesian Volunteers during the Anglo-Boer War; and model trains from the Baxter collection.

Florence St (Railway Station): Phone +27 (0)53 838 2376: Monday to Friday from 10h00 – 15h30.

Rhode’s Boardroom

Rhode’s Boardroom is a National Monument and was the De Beers Mining Company Head Office from 1886 to 1889 when it moved to Stockdale St. Many artefacts of Rhodes, Jameson, and other historical personalities are on display, including the original boardroom table and chairs. This was the building where the mines amalgamation took place in 1888.

Warren Street: Phone: +27 (0)83 732 3189

Clyde Terry Hall of Militaria

A display on international militaria from World War II.

Memorial Road (MOTH Centre): Tel: +27 (0)53 832 7013

FG Tait Golf Museum

Displays on the history of golf in South Africa, and particularly in Kimberley where the town is home to the first golf course in SA, with members like Rhodes and his mining magnate friends.

Kimberley Golf Club (Transvaal Road): +27 (0)53 841 0179

Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre

Wildebeest Kuil is one of some 15 000 known rock art sites in South Africa. The art occurs in two forms: paintings and, as at Wildebeest Kuil, engravings.

Barkly West Road (± 15km): Tel: +27 (0)53 833 7069: +27 (0)82 222 4777: GPS 28°40’1″S 24°39’3″E

More info on the quaint town of Kimberley More info on the Diamond Fields area

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