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Museums

Apartheid Museum – Look into South Africa Tumultuous Past

Located in Johannesburg, the Apartheid Museum is one of the most important attractions to visit for a insight into South Africa's history. The Apartheid Museum is an extremely powerful exhibit, and is visited often by local residents and international tourist. Once inside the Apartheid Museum, the atmosphere overwhelms you. Racing back to the 70’s and 80’s, you can almost taste the teargas, feel the fear of bullets raining down on you, want to sing with the marching children and wipe away the tears for a fallen comrade. If you are ready to experience all these emotions, then you are prepared for what you are going to find within the walls of the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

The Apartheid Museum is approximately 6000 square meters in size, and is built on a seven hectare field, with a lake and a park next to the building. The museum came into being, when casino bidders were required to commit themselves to a social responsibility project. The consortium spent 80 million in regard to the erection of the building and a 100 million in total, by covering the running costs of the museum for two years. Museum director, Christopher Till, has commented that the museum being built in Johannesburg is appropriate, as it here that at the turn of the century, people converged for their own reasons. During the apartheid era of South African history, many people were displaced from their lands, white farmers during the Anglo Boer Wars, and through the colonial wars black people were displaced from their land. A team of historians, curators, designers and filmmakers came together to take visitors on an unforgettable journey filled with heartache, frustration, humiliation, bravery, sacrifice, determination and victory.

On entering the Apartheid Museum, you are given an admission card. The card, the size of a credit card, is handed to you. On the card is either “White” or “Non-White”, and with this in your mind and clutching your chest, your journey begins. The first exhibition that you will enter into consists of rows of cages. Each cage carries an enlargement of identity books, identity cards, racially tagged cards and passbooks. Throughout the museum you will view dramatic and very graphic images. One exhibit features 121 nooses hanging from the roof. These nooses represent political prisoners that were hung during the apartheid era. You can sit inside an armored vehicle that was used in the townships, and view footage that was taken from the vehicle while driving in the townships. Weapons used by the Special Forces are also on display. Monitors at different exhibits will show you moving interviews and public speeches that will anger you. The Apartheid Museum with all its visual and sound exhibits, is overwhelming and for the most can be very upsetting. They will either bring back memories for some or tell others the reality of apartheid, a reality some were sheltered and kept from.

No matter how you experience the Apartheid museum, it is a story that needs to be told. It is a part of South Africa’s history, and is a reminder to us of the horrors associated with apartheid, and a warning to the leaders of the future.