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​​​Jozi through an old photographic lens​


Museum Africa in Newtown’s cultural precinct is challenging Johannesburg residents to take a fresh look at the city’s history and heritage through a series of planned interactive tours designed to bring the past to life and stimulate discussion.

The museum is to open its doors to photographic students on Thursday July 23, giving them, in an interactive setting, the opportunity to tour the Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography, which is on its premises. The Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography is easily accessible to academic researchers and photography students alike.

According to Curator Dudu Madonsela, the museum provides experience that complements existing school curricula. Experienced tour guides will be on hand to answer any question photography students might have to maximise the benefits of their experience. “These tours are aimed at raising awareness of the importance of photography in the preservation of photographic history – both as heritage and arts,” she says.

The museum also hopes that the tours will help to highlight the rich history and heritage of Johannesburg so visitors could play their part in promoting tourism in the city. To this end, the museum will build similar interactive experiences around its other fraternities and exhibitions – including interactive guided tours of the Geology Museum and other exhibits on its premises, the adjoining Workers’ Museum and an introduction to the history of the liberation movement and the dark legacy of apartheid. “These tours are made possible and meaningful through our permanent displays, temporary photo exhibitions and the Camera Obscura (an optical precursor to the photograph, which gives an impressive 360 degree view of the Newtown Precinct),” Madonsela explains.

Museum Africa, formerly known as Africana Museum, was built in 1913 and is housed in the City of Johannesburg’s former fruit and vegetable market, opposite the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown.
It is sometimes described as a series of “museums within a museum”.

It, among other things, boasts:

A rich archive of political and satirical historical cartoons;
Displays featuring one of the oldest and largest meteorite impact craters in the world;
Important fossils;
More than 5 000 examples of rocks, gems and minerals;
The largest diamond ever found; and
Hands-on displays featuring the work of noted photographers and photographic inventions through the ages.
The Workers’ Museum is managed as a branch of Museum Africa and tells the story of migrants who came to Johannesburg from across Southern Africa from the early 1900s to the 1970s, leaving behind their homes and families behind.

The museum is open to the public on Tuesdays to Sundays between 9am and 5pm. For more information on interactive guided tours, phone (011) 833-5624 or send a fax to (011) 833-5636.