A childhood museum experience sticks with you. Especially one that ignites a new passion: gaining a deeper understanding of space, experiencing the bones or fossils of an extinct or strange animal first-hand, falling in love with an artwork for the first time, being inspired by heroism or shocked by atrocities of the past.
Museums tell our stories, and how we have survived on Earth for thousands of years. They house the cultural soul of the nation, and in countries like South Africa, can become the cultural conscience of the nation. Aside from commemorating and telling stories of the past, they can become agents of change, development and progress by calling attention to actions and events that encourage development in society.
Perhaps most importantly, museums play a fundamental role in educating. Through the tools and materials housed in their collections, museums can play a positive role in exposing children, and the general public, to their history, and assist future generations in understanding their history and culture. Many of the museums in South Africa have educational programmes that can enrich the curriculum and learning process on all levels: from preschool through to university.
School visits to the Apartheid Museum make education about the country’s history more creative and memorable. They are important for establishing a comprehensive connection between learners and the information in their textbooks. For more information on booking, visit https://www.apartheidmuseum.org/school-visits
Through their educational programmes, the Liliesleaf Trust engages with learners on historical content focused on the South African liberation struggle. They also try to engage learners’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills through their archive workshops and give students insight into heritage work as a future career option. While the museum is temporarily closed, information on tour bookings can be found here: https://liliesleaf.co.za/visitingus/
The Origins Centre at Wits University offers an extensive education programme that provides learners, educators and tourists with the opportunity to experience Africa’s rich, complex and sometimes mysterious past. For more information on their offering, visit
The DITSONG Museums of South Africa proffers CAPS-aligned education programmes, in addition to exhibition-aligned education programmes. DITSONG is an amalgamation of eight museums in Gauteng, including the National Museum of Cultural History and the National Museum of Natural History. Guided tours at these museums start at R30 a learner. Visit https://ditsong.org.za/ for more information and details.
In Tshwane, the Pretoria Art Museum, Melrose House Museum, Fort Klapperkop Heritage Site and Centurion Art Gallery all present exhibitions supplemented with educational activities, thereby making art and culture accessible to all. The selection of objects and artworks from the permanent collections on exhibition is based on the school syllabus. For more information on the individual museums, visit http://www.tshwane.gov.za/sites/tourism/Arts-Culture-and-Heritage/Pages/default.aspx.
At the University of Pretoria, The Mapungubwe UP Museum’s educational tour programme aligns with the CAPs curriculum. A majority of the content of the national curriculum is supported through the museum’s programming, and school textbooks and curricula feature images provided directly by the University of Pretoria. For more information and contact details, visit https://www.up.ac.za/museums-collections.
The Education Department at Iziko Museums of South Africa runs dynamic school, holiday, public and outreach programmes geared towards creating engaging learning experiences for everyone. The schools’ programmes are directly aligned to the national CAPS curriculum and support learning outcomes at Foundation, Intermediate, Senior, as well as the Further Education and Training (FET) Phases. Lessons conducted during museum visits build on classroom practice and provide relatable experiences for both learners and educators. Schools’ programmes include visual art, natural history, and social history education. Schools’ programmes provide lessons, resources, special needs activities, educator enrichment workshops and projects aimed at adding value to classroom practice. For more information, visit https://www.iziko.org.za/all-education
The La Motte Museum offers online resources pertaining to the Pierneef collection (Visual Arts Curriculum) and online resources for temporary exhibitions (text, pdf, video and audio-guide formats). The Historic Walk has an architectural focus with reference to the Cape Dutch building tradition, and the Sculpture Walk references the bronze sculpting process. Temporary exhibitions are also often process-driven or focused on the “making of” for different art mediums, for example, printmaking. These can be booked online at https://www.la-motte.com/pages/museum.
Committed to bringing to fruition the creative potential of this province’s multi-talented students, the KZNSA Gallery runs artist-led workshops, talks and online education aimed at both the student and the educator. For more information on this programming and how to book, visit https://www.kznsagallery.co.za/Content/Education
Find out more about the museums in your province (and their educational programming) here.