Visit the Museums of Pretoria
Located in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, Pretoria is often referred to as the “Jacaranda City” – a reference to the thousands of Jacaranda trees that line the streets and are found in its parks and gardens. Pretoria is also the administrative capital of South Africa and home to a number of museums that chronicle the history and culture of the region and its people. These include the Van Wouw Museum, the Voortrekker Monument, Kruger House, Freedom Park and the Ditsong Museums of South Africa.
Dedicated to the sculptor Anton van Wouw (1862-1945), the museum is housed in his last residence, now in the suburb of Brooklyn, Pretoria. Van Wouw was born in the Netherlands in 1962 and moved to South Africa when he was 28 years old. His gift for portraying the mood of his subject in his sculptures through facial expressions and body language is evident in the examples of his work displayed at the museum. These include his 1907 works The Shangaan, The Sleeping African, The Zulu, The Mieliepap Eater, The Hunter Drinking and The Skapu Player, as well as The Thinker completed in 1935, and The Laughing Basutu from 1936.
The Voortrekker Monument stands on Monument Hill south of Pretoria as a reminder of the Voortrekkers (pioneers) who travelled from the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854. The huge granite structure, designed by South African architect Gerard Moerdijk, was opened to the public on December 16, 1949 and declared a National Heritage Site on July 8, 2011. Visitors to the 40 meter high monument will see some of the difficulties encountered, and triumphs achieved, by these intrepid pioneers immortalized in the 27 bas-relief marble panels of the history of the journey that came to be known as the Great Trek. Other features of the Voortrekker Monument include the Cenotaph inscribed “Ons Vir Jou Suid Afrika”. The dome of the monument is designed so that at 12 o’clock on December 16 each year (weather permitting) a ray of sunlight falls on the wording as a reminder of the Battle of Blood River fought on December 16, 1838.
The Ditsong Museums include the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of Cultural History, the National Museum of Military History, the Sammy Marks Museum, the Pioneer Museum, the Tswaing Meteorite Crater, the Kruger Museum, and the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum.
Museums can help visitors gain insight into the area they are exploring, so be sure to add one or two to your itinerary when visiting South Africa’s Jacaranda City.