Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Grahamstown History Museum

The second museum that forms part of the Albany Museum Complex in Grahamstown is the History Museum.  This museum was established in 1965 and used to be known as the 1820 Settlers Memorial Museum.  A couple of years ago it was decided to not just focus on the contribution of the 1820 British Settlers to the district anymore, but to encompass all the people that live and have lived in the Eastern Cape. 

The collections relating to the British Settlers cover agricultural equipment, domestic furniture, costume and textiles, ceramics, glass, silver, toys and dolls, militaria, medals, coins, documents and genealogical information.  Looking at some of the things in the collection, specially the furniture, you can see how they were under a wrong impression about what was waiting for them when they got here.

The ethnographic collection focuses on Southern Nguni Peoples and features the traditional dress of the Xhosa people.  On our visit there was also a temporary exhibition on traditional African music as well as a art exhibition upstairs.  There is a small art collection of original historic paintings by F T I'ons and T Baines.

After the excitement of the Natural Science Museum, Chaos Boy found the History Museum very boring.  I have to kinda agree with him on that one.  If it wasn't for my keen interest in the 1820 British Settlers, I probably wouldn't have gone in there at all.  My humble opinion is that they need to expand a lot on their exhibition on the Xhosa culture so that they can pull more feet through the door by creating an interest in the culture where tourists and visitors can come and learn more about it.


  1. It's not always easy to keep a young boy interested in history.

  2. I've been very entertained by your posts on the museums of Grahamstown. While I haven't visited these ones I did spend a *lot* of time in the East London museum as a kid. Those G'town ones look *exactly* the same, from the wooden display cases to the parquet floors. I think they are in a time warp! Brought back lots of memories.