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Western Cape, Arts and Culture

Arts and Culture

Arts
  • refers to individually or collectively created products of value, the expression or application of creative skill and imagination in the various branches of creative activity such as painting, sculpture, music, dance, theatre, films, graphic arts etc.

Culture
  • refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.

Heritage
  • refers to valued property such as historic buildings, artwork, books and manuscripts and other artefacts that have been passed down from previous generations. They are of special value and are worthy of preservation.

Africa's history is steeped in a rich variety of music, literature, theatre and arts. Cape Town is a cultural hub and has a long and storied history. The Mother City's history is rich and has a number of world class museums that offer up a treasure trove to the past – both the good and the bad.

Irma Stern Museum, Kalk Bay Art, South African National Gallery

Irma Stern Museum
Irma Stern (1894-1966), a major South African artist who achieved national and international recognition in her lifetime. The permanent collection on display shows Irma Stern's development as an artist whose subject matter included exotic figures, portraits, lush landscapes and still lifes conveyed in a variety of media, ranging from oils and water colours to gouache and charcoal. The Irma Stern Museum was established in 1971 and is the house the artist lived in for almost four decades. Several of the rooms are furnished as she arranged them while upstairs there is a commercial gallery used by contemporary South African artists.


Kalk Bay Art
This Cape Town art gallery's reputation for the most comprehensive selection of contemporary, original South African art has made it a well-respected gallery with loyal collectors and investors from South Africa and around the world.  Art categories represented include South African landscape art, wildlife and township scenes, ceramic and bronze sculptures, as well as an in-depth collection of well-known and familiar local harbour and seascape scenes.


South African National Gallery
South Africa's premier art museum houses outstanding collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art. Selections from the Permanent Collection change regularly to enable the museum to have a full programme of temporary exhibitions of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, beadwork, textiles and architecture. They provide insight into the extraordinary range of aesthetic production in this country, the African continent and further afield. This programme is complemented by a range of temporary visiting exhibitions.


Castle of Good Hope, Distict 6 Museum, Robben Island, Heart Museum, South African Jewish Museum

Castle of Good Hope
Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a maritime replenishment station, the Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. From 1678 it was the centre of civilian, administrative and military life at the Cape, until the settlement grew and some functions and activities moved away from the Castle. Today the Castle is the seat of the military in the Cape, and houses the Castle Military Museum and Iziko Museums of Cape Town (William Fehr Collection).
 

District 6 Museum
The Red City Tour bus will take you to a quaint museum which stands today in honour of the fondly remembered area of District Six, which is a region readily found on all Cape Town maps. District Six was named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867. Originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants, District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port.
 
  • Discover how and why District Six no longer exists today
  • See how apartheid and the Group Areas Act tore a community apart
  • Learn more about the residents of District Six

Robben Island
From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment. Today it is a World Heritage Site and museum, a poignant reminder to the newly democratic South Africa of the price paid for freedom. In 1961, the South African apartheid government opened a maximum security prison for political prisoners and convicted criminals, including Nelson Mandela and many other anti-apartheid activists. The prison was notorious for its harsh conditions where prisoners were subjected to grueling tasks, such as breaking rocks into gravel in the courtyard, exposed to the elements. However the prison failed to crush the spirit of Mandela and his comrades, who used their time to educate themselves and debate a wide-range of topics. In 1991, all political prisoners were released, followed by the common-law prisoners five years later. Today Robben Island is a stark reminder of the apartheid government and a symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice. The Maximum Security Prison is now a museum where daily tours are conducted by ex-political prisoners.

Heart Museum
Experience the first heart transplant, the museum is housed where the actual events took place:
 
  • Where it all began
  • How it all began
  • Today, The Heart of Cape Town Museum honours all those who played a major role in a surgical feat that pushed the boundaries of science into the dawn of a new medical era, an era in which it became possible to transplant the symbol of the essence of life our human heart.
   

South African Jewish Museum
The building offers visitors a truly unique experience with its bold architectural design, interactive multi-media displays and engaging accounts of South African Jewish history.
 
  • View paintings on display in honour of those who fought against South Arican apartheid
  • Watch video footage of the famous Barney Barnato, Max Rose and Nelson Mandela
  • See fine Jewish collections of rare Judaica artifacts and more.

Theatres: Labia, Artscape, Athol Fugard, Barnyard, Die Boer


The Labia
The Labia Theatre is the oldest Independent Art-Repertory Cinema in South Africa, showing independent movies, foreign films, historical cinema and other alternative and art circuit films. Enjoy quality independent movies at reasonable admission prices in our four characteristic screens at 68 Orange Street, Gardens. The Labia Movie Theatre on Orange Street is Cape Town’s original Independent Art Movie house and consists of four screens, a 176 seater, a 95, a 67 seater, an intimate 66 seater.  In addition, the Orange Street Cinema has a cosy coffee bar which offers home-made delicacies, a chocolate bar serving sweets, chocolates and popcorn, an outside terrace and a fully licenced bar. The Labia is the only cinema where you can relax, sip a drink from the bar and watch a movie!

The Artscape
The Artscape Theatre Centre, which belongs to the provincial administration, was opened on 19 May 1971 as the Nico Malan Theatre Centre. Inline with the new South African political dispensation and the concurrent changes the complex was renamed to Artscape in March 2001. Historically the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) was instituted in the early sixties of the twentieth century. The aim was to promote the performing arts. The arts councils received sufficient government subsidies to fund various art forms as well as the operational requirements of the theatre facilities. CAPAB programmed and managed the Nico Malan Theatre Centre as a production house with four arts companies – orchestra, opera, ballet, and drama. These companies had full-time artists, technical and administrative staff. Since 1994 government policy changed dramatically. All performing arts boards were transformed to playhouses and the various arts companies had to become independent. Artscape was launched on 27 March 1999 to replace CAPAB. Today it manages the theatre venues and provides essential technical and specialised services on a semi-commercial basis. The emphasis is on sustainable theatre practice, education and development. With its close proximity to Cape Town’s central business district, the new International Convention Centre and the V & A Waterfront, Artscape is ideally situated to serve the Cape’s performing arts, film, tourism, entertainment, conference, and exhibition industries.

The Baxter
The Baxter Theatre Centre is a vibrant, multicultural entertainment hub in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. Nestled under the striking Devil’s Peak mountain and at the foot of the University of Cape Town, the Baxter boasts a world-class theatre and concert hall, as well as a studio stage, rehearsal rooms, offices, a restaurant and bars and an impressive spacious foyer. Built in 1976, the Baxter was a pillar of hope during the apartheid era. By leveraging its strong relationship with UCT, the theatre was able to present multiracial, progressive work at a time when all other non-racial interactivity was banned or censored. The first interracial kiss ever on a South African stage took place during the Baxter’s first production of Miss Julie in 1985, while today our version of Mies Julie storms theatres all around the world.
 
Athol Fugard
Athol Fugard is South Africa’s most significant and internationally acclaimed playwright. For over fifty years he has written soul-searing plays with roles for all South Africans which have moved audiences in South Africa and around the world to laughter and tears as they reflected the racism, barbarity and inhumanity of apartheid. Working with John Kani, the late Zakes Mokae and others he created iconic black characters whose narratives profoundly changed the way millions of people viewed apartheid.  In his over thirty plays Athol Fugard champions truth and a fundamental universal humanity. In 2011 he received the ultimate recognition from the world’s most prestigious theatre community - a Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre. The Fugard Theatre is proud to bear his name and will honour him by providing a crucible of creativity and beacon of humanity for all South Africans regardless of race, colour, gender or creed. The Fugard Theatre is proud too to be located in District 6 and honours the history and memory of that vibrant community which was so savagely uprooted during the apartheid era. The 320-seater Fugard Theatre is located within the historic Sacks Futeran building in Cape Town’s District Six, with the renovated Congregational Church Hall in Caledon Street as its entrance.  

The Barnyard
In 1996 the first Barnyard Theatre was opened by the Möller family on a dairy farm just outside Plettenberg Bay. Louis and Sybel had both been involved in the performing arts most of their lives, Louis as co-founder and producer of, amongst others, Carte Blanche, and Sybel Coetzee as a freelance actress and TV presenter. In 1989 they took stock of their hectic lives with two young boys and decided that family comes first. As a result they decided to open a dairy farm close to Plettenberg Bay. After a few years of farming they longed for a way to combine their two loves – the footlights and the farm. Then 1996 saw the birth of The Barnyard Theatres. Why Barnyard? Louis had built a beautiful, rustic American-style wooden barn on the farm, which Sybel and Louis converted into a theatre with an old-world atmosphere, heavy wooden beams, a horseshoe gallery, big tables with welcoming lanterns and wood chips on the floor.

In 2003 Louis joined forces with well-known South African musician Duck Chowles and together they formed The Barnyard Theatre Production Company. Having produced, amongst others, the mega-hit Roll Over Beethoven, Louis instinctively knew Duck belonged in the Barnyard stable. Duck Chowles now directs and produces all Barnyard Theatre Productions. The Barnyard Theatre concept is 21 years old this year. Barnyard shows feature the greatest hits of our time. In addition, we regularly host well-known South African bands, comedians and performers. In 2014, we started hosting and promoting tours with original international acts. Patrons sit around heavy wooden tables and have the option of packing their own picnic basket or ordering food from the theatre. For the love of music, come and be entertained at your local Barnyard Theatre.

Die Boer
Die Boer is the premier "dinner & live entertainment under one roof" venue in the Western Cape and is situated in the heart of the Durbanville CBD, about 25 mins from the Cape Town city centre, Stellenbosch and Paarl.  With 6 shows a week, we cater for just about every taste under the African sun.  With this  interactive website, you can see our program for months ahead, learn more about the amazing artists that perform here, choose a table, book and pay for your tickets online.  Established in 2005, die Boer has become a landmark in the entertainment industry and a "must visit" item on the program of visitors country wide. Seating 120 people, all with an unobstructed view of the stage, we offer our guests an intimate, upmarket, yet very affordable dinner-theatre experience. The magic of an evening at die Boer can only be experienced live, so browse through our program, choose an event and book a table online or via telephone. Come enjoy some top-class cuisine and  watch the créme de la créme of South Africa's artists perform in a superb acoustic environment.


Bo-Kaap Museum, Slave Lodge, Rust en Vreugd


The Bo-Kaap Museum
The Bo-Kaap Museum, situated in the historic area that became home to many Muslims and freed slaves after the abolition of slavery, showcases local Islamic culture and heritage. The Bo-Kaap itself is well worth a visit. Colourful houses, steep cobbled streets, the muezzin’s calls to prayer, and children traditionally dressed for Madrassa, add to this unique Cape experience. The Museum was established in 1978 as a satellite of the SA Cultural History Museum. It was furnished as a house that depicts the lifestyle of a nineteenth-century Muslim family. Today, the museum is in a transformation stage. The Museum is managed by Iziko Museums, an amalgamation of five national museums that includes the SA Cultural History Museum and its satellites. The museum is being changed into a social history museum that will tell the story of the local community within a national socio-political and cultural context and two new displays with this theme have already been completed.

The Slave Lodge
The Slave Lodge is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. The many names of the building over three centuries – Slave Lodge, Government Offices Building, Old Supreme Court, and SA Cultural History Museum – reflect the long and rich history of the building. In 1998 this museum was renamed the Slave Lodge. Under the umbrella theme, ‘From human wrongs to human rights, exhibitions on the lower level of this museum explore the long history of slavery in South Africa. Through our changing, temporary exhibitions we address issues around and raise awareness of human rights. The upper level galleries as well as other spaces in the museum will be renewed in the coming years. An audio-guided tour can be rented at a nominal fee. This guide takes you on a historical journey through the Slave Lodge and gives you insight into the dismal living conditions.
 

Exhibition Space
The upper galleries of the Iziko Slave Lodge are open to the public. The majority of these exhibitions are older displays which showcase some highlights from our ceramics, silverware and Egyptology collections to name a few. These exhibitions do not focus on the history of the slavery in South Africa. A selection of ceramics from various parts of the world can be enjoyed in the ceramics gallery. South African wares on show include Ceramic Studio and Linn Ware objects made at Olifantsfontein during the first half of the 20th century, as well as contemporary works. The silver gallery shows a range of domestic and commemorative objects of Cape, English, Malaysian and Russian origin. The Mullne Collection of Cape silver, on loan from DITSONG Museums in Pretoria, is also on show. In the coming years we wish to transform these galleries to draw links to national heritage and history.

Rust en Vreugd
Rust en Vreugd was built as a home for Willem Cornelis Boers, a high-ranking official of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) known as a fiscal, around 1777–1778. The house was built on Cape Town’s outer limits (thus the name of the street – buitenkant or outer edge) in the transitional area between town and the larger market garden farms of the upper part of the city. After Boers, the property passed to several other private citizens. In 1878, the house was bought by the Dutch Reformed Church and served as a teachers’ training college; the Cape Town High School occupied the property from 1925–1957; and in the early 1960s it was restored and converted into a gallery space. A second restoration took place in 1993, and more recently, disabled access facilities were installed. In 1965, William Fehr donated his private collection of works of art on paper (watercolours, prints and drawings) to the people of South Africa. This gift is housed at Rust en Vreugd. Due to the sensitive nature of artworks on paper, only a selection of works is on exhibition.

SA Naval Museum, Simon's Town Museum, Mineral World, Warrior Toy Museum


SA Naval Museum
Archives both British and local naval history and houses a submarine diorama. The museum is the custodian of the Martello Tower (one of the worlds oldest Corsican towers). An explanation is also given of how the submarine dives and how it surfaces at sea and you get to know many interesting facts about submarines.

Simon’s Town Museum
Built in 1777, archives the town’s history and is housed in the Residency – former home of the Dutch East India Company governors. The Simon’s Town Museum collects and exhibits the cultural history of the people of Simon’s Town and their connections with the Dutch East India Company and the Royal Navy. In the collection you will also find all Just Nuisances' official papers, his collar and many photographs. A special display and a slide show giving the story of this famous dog is shown daily to children and tourists from all over the world.

Mineral World
At the Scratch Patch in Simon’s Town, you can have loads of fun “scratching” for your favourite tumble-polished gemstones from thousands of polished stones that quite literally cover the floor!  A wide variety of tumble-polished gemstones are found in the Scratch Patch, such as Tiger’s Eye, Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Jasper, Agates and Crystals.  If you’re lucky, you might find virtually anything including Lapis Lazuli, Blue Lace Agate and some really exotic stones!

Warrior Toy Museum
The world’s only Warrior Toy Museum.  There is a permanent exhibition of  toys, dolls, Meccano sets, model cars, boats, trains, soldiers, airplanes and other toys. The toy museum is of particular interest to those collectors seeking to extend their own collection.

Canon Museum, Gold of Africa Museum, Rhodes Memorial, Koopmans-de Wet House


Cannon Museum (aka Chavonnes Battery Museum)
The Chavonnes Cannon Battery is the oldest major fortification in Cape Town except for the Castle of Good Hope. The Chavonnes Cannon Battery was build in a splay-legged "U" shape, and mounted with 16 great guns which between them had an arc of fire of nearly 180 degrees.  When the Alfred basin construction began, however, large parts of the cannon battery was demolished. Later, the rest of the battery disappeared under warehouses and factories.  Perhaps you haven’t had the opportunity of going up to Lion Battery on Signal Hill to watch the Noon Gun being fired. If so, come along to the Chavonnes Battery. From the flagpoles you have a grandstand view of the Noon Gun’s cloud of smoke, followed by the usual loud boom. If you time your visit to end just before noon or start just afterwards, you can obtain an unusual souvenir by having your companion take your photo in front of the Flagpoles just as the Noon Gun’s smoke bursts out of the mountain behind you.

Gold of Africa Museum
This unique museum entices visitors to experience the ancient, sometime mystical relations that exists between gold and the African continent through state-of-the-art visual and artistic disays.  The museum is home to a collection of 350 West African gold artefacts as well as objects from the ancient gold civilisations of southern Africa.  The purpose of the collection is to preserve the art of African goldsmithing while inspiring contemporary design.

Rhodes Memorial
Rhodes Memorial, built in remembrance of Cecil John Rhodes who contributed greatly to the formation of the sub continent, lies on the northern flank of Table Mountain, at the base of Devil’s Peak.  Forty nine steps - one for each year of Rhodes’ life - lead down to a rostrum. The stairs are lined with granite walls on which statues of eight lions look out over Cape Town. Rhodes’ bust lies at the memorial, at the foot of the steps and identical to the statue in Kensington Palace Gardens in London.

Koopmans-de Wet House
This house museum is furnished as a home for a well-to-do Cape family during the late 18th Century. It houses some of the best pieces of Cape furniture and silver in the country, in addition to a priceless collection of ceramics. A household such as this would only have been able to function with its share of servants and slaves, and recent research has brought to light the names and professions of some who lived in the house at the time, as well as the kinds of activities they would have pursued. The house opened its doors as a museum in 1914, after the deaths of its last private owners, Marie Koopmans-de Wet and her sister Margaritha. It is the oldest house museum in the country. Marie Koopmans-de Wet, after whom the Museum is named, was well known during the South African War for her help to the orphans and widows of the Boer republics.

Planetarium and Digital Dome, South African Museum, Maritime Centre


Planetarium and Digital Dome
The new Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome is the most advanced digital planetarium on the African continent. This multi-functional, world class facility brings digital technology to Cape Town - creating a space of innovation and discovery; where art, science and entertainment meet. The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome not only provides immersive multi-sensory edutainment and a platform for artistic production - it will also be used for cutting-edge scientific research and to optimise South Africa’s eResearch and data visualisation capacity. In addition, learners and educators from primary to tertiary levels will benefit from computer generated imagery that makes interactive teaching and visual learning possible; providing an unparalleled and accelerated learning experience. This digital full dome theatre provides audiences with an unequalled experience of animation and 360◦ cinema; as well as making virtual exploration of the universe, the inner workings of the human body, or the intricacies of an atomic structure possible.
 
         
South African Museum
The South African Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance. The collections now range from fossils almost 700-million years old to insects and fish caught last week. There are also stone tools made by people 120 000 years ago, traditional clothes from the last century, and T-shirts printed yesterday. The South African Museum was founded in 1825. In 1897 the Museum moved to its present building in the historic Company's Garden. Since then millions of visitors have wandered its halls and corridors to be stimulated and inspired by its collections and exhibitions. They have left the Museum with a better understanding of the earth and its biological and cultural diversity, past and present.
 

  • For every object on exhibition at the South Museum, there are thousands more carefully stored away. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance.
  • For nearly 200 years scientists at the Museum have been adding to these collections and studying them.
  • The collections now range from fossils almost 700 million years old to insects and fish caught last week. There are also stone tools made by people 120 000 years ago, traditional clothes from the last century, and T-shirts printed yesterday.
  • Only machine-made objects and clones can be exactly the same. Each natural object is slightly different from all the others. We need many examples of each type or species of animal to find out how they vary so that we can be sure we have identified them correctly.
  • We must collect different animals from one place to find out how many there are. We must also collect many examples of each kind to find out which ones are most common. This helps us understand how all animals and plants contribute to making our environment work.
         

What other services do museum scientists provide?
  • Museum scientists are keen to tell you about their work, so they are happy to give talks to schools, clubs and any other group that is interested. Just phone to make an arrangement.
  • You can ask them to identify puzzling objects. Either phone or leave your specimen at the Museum to be looked at later. Be sure not to collect objects that may be rare or protected by the law. Rather report what you saw and take a photograph if you can.
  • Some museum taxonomists provide professional identifications for commercial enterprises.
  • Museum scientists can be called upon to act as expert witnesses in legal cases.
  • Museum scientists undertake environmental impact assessments, which help protect our heritage.

The Iziko Maritime Centre
The Iziko Maritime Centre features an overview of shipping in Cape Town, and the earliest existing model of Table Bay harbour, completed in 1885 by prisoners and warders of Breakwater Prison, forms part of the exhibitions. Images depicting Table Bay from the 17th to 20th Century give an idea of the development of the harbour. There is a collection of ship models and objects associated with shipping in Cape Town, in particular the era of mail-ships. Large and medium-sized images support the exhibitions, with the emphasis on the Union-Castle Line. A key part of this resource centre is the John H Marsh Maritime Research Centre. The Marsh collection consists of various collections including an important archive of nearly 20 000 photographs, depicting 9 200 ships dating from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. It also has an online service for the answering of queries regarding the ships and for ordering images of these ships.

       
Groot Constantia and Parliament


Groot Constantia: Historic precinct
The farm, Groot Constantia, dates back to 1685, when the land was granted to Simon van der Stel. It is the oldest wine-producing estate of South Africa. The Manor House, with its exhibition of furniture, paintings, textiles, ceramics, brass, and copperware, provides an insight into the life of a successful 18th to late 19th century Cape farmer. The original Cloete Cellar, which hosts the Wine Museum and where the world-famous sweet wines of Constantia was made, exhibits wine storage and drinking vessels from antiquity to the early 20th century. Panel, object and archaeological displays give an overview of Groot Constantia from the past to present, including slavery on the estate. A carriage collection on the farm is exhibited in the coach house that forms part of the Jonkershuis complex.

 
Experience the new Groot Constantia Visitors Route Experience
Once you step through the doors of the Manor House you will feel all that Groot Constantia has to offer by following a circular route winding through the historical core of the esate. Start your Visitors Route Experience at the cultural history museum in the Manor House. From here go to the famed Cloete Cellar with a sculpted pediment by Anton Anreith, which is the home to a wine museum and tasting room. Enjoy wine tasting with your own Spiegelau crystal glass to take as a memento. Then head to the modern Production Cellar for self-guided museum, cellar and vineyard audio-tours.
 

Buy 1 Visitors Route Experience Ticket and enjoy

  • Entry to Manor House & Museum
  • Entry to Cloete Cellar & Museum
  • Souvenir Spiegelau Crystal Glass
  • Wine Tasting
  • 3 Audio Walking Tours
         

Parliament
Parliament sits in Cape Town, even though the seat of government is in Pretoria. This dates back to the foundation of the Union, when there was disagreement between the four provinces as to which city would be the national capital. As a compromise, Cape Town was designated the legislative capital, Bloemfontein the judicial capital, and Pretoria the administrative capital.

Attending a debate
Tickets for observing debates from the public galleries of both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) can be obtained.

Where do debates take place?
In the chambers of the National Assembly or National Council of Provinces.

When do debates take place?
Debates take place in accordance with the parliamentary programme. Usually they take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays afternoons and occasionally on Friday mornings. Members of the public also attend the State of the Nation Address. This is usually by invitation only.

 
Useful Information
  
  • DVD presentation on the National Symbols and the new Parliamentary Emblem in our multimedia centre.
  • Guided tours of Parliament including history, the functions of Parliament, an explanation of how Parliament works and how you can get involved in the Parliamentary processes
  • Observe debates from the public galleries in the National Assembly or National Council of Provinces.
  • Meeting with a member of Parliament.
  • Presentations on the Structure of Parliament, Committees of Parliament, How a law is made, Parliament’s oversight role, etc
  • Attend a Public Hearing or committee meeting
  • Having a discussion with the Public Relations Unit Head or member of staff

     
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