Tour the Gold of Africa Museum
The spectacular city of Cape Town in South Africa is a major tourist attraction with many places of interest to keep visitors entertained and to give them insight into the history and culture of this diverse country. One such place is the unique Gold of Africa Museum, housed in the Martin Melck House, a beautifully restored historic landmark in Strand Street, Cape Town. The Martin Melck House was built in 1783 and is considered to be one of the finest remaining examples of domestic architecture of the 18th century.
The Gold of Africa Museum is the first museum in the world that is dedicated to the history of gold in Africa, with more than 350 West African gold artifacts, as well as pieces from ancient civilizations of southern Africa. The focal point of the museum is the exquisite Barbier-Mueller collection of African gold artifacts. This collection was assembled over a 50 year period, started by Swiss collector, Josef Mueller, and continued after his death by his daughter and son-in-law, Jean Paul Barbier. The collection was exhibited in the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Switzerland until it was bought in 2001 and returned to Africa by gold mining company Anglo Gold Ashanti.
One of the aims of the museum is to bring to the attention of the public the skilful artistry of ancient African civilizations, as well as to preserve traditional designs and techniques for future generations, while inspiring contemporary designs. A qualified guide takes visitors through a thousand years of rituals and legends, revealing through ancient African proverbs the history of gold and its impact on communities. Visitors are given insight into the background and values of the people who created each exquisitely designed pieces, as well as the symbolism behind the design.
Apart from the permanent exhibitions of the museum, temporary exhibitions are set up to present works from other countries, including India, Mali, Brazil and Egypt. With temporary exhibitions being changed on a regular basis, visitors who return to the Gold of Africa Museum are likely to see something different each time.
The Gold of Africa Museum has a gold jewellery workshop which is the venue for demonstrations and courses. Visitors can watch local goldsmiths create unique pieces of jewellery from South African gold, some of which are sold in the shop at the museum. Courses of varying lengths and costs are available to anyone who wants to learn the art of jewellery making.
Visitors to Cape Town, South Africa, should not miss the opportunity to explore the Gold of Africa Museum for unique insight into the many aspects of gold – a precious metal that continues to be highly esteemed.