The Albany Museum – a window into Eastern Cape Heritage

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By LINDA DYANI

What we have in store for you

An exhibit in the Natural History Museum. Photo: Sue Maclennan

Discover our Natural World

View the unusual Earth in Space exhibition with a Foucault pendulum and examples of real meteorites.Visit our fascinating dinosaur gallery which exhibits the Fossil Heritage of the Eastern Cape and includes replicas of dinosaurs and their footprints. Visit the Hall of Birds and Mammal Galleries and our ever popular Children’s Wildlife Gallery with Charlie the Chimpanzee. The Dr Hewitt Gallery contains the skull of Jack, the Baboon who worked as a signalman in the 19th century! Stand in wonder at the large Japanese spider-crab and giant clam in the Invertebrate Gallery.

Traditionally Africans have known that fish is a healthy diet, hence they used traditional technology to manufacture fishing equipment. Come and view fishing equipment that was used in the last 200 years in the Traditional Fishing Methods Gallery. Did u know that umnquma, intelezi, inqwebeba are plants that Xhosa used as charms. Impepho, nozithwana are plants that are used for meditation, visit the Xhosa Plants exhibition and see much more.

Encounter Eastern Cape History and Culture

The History Museum hosts collections of art, historical objects as well as genealogical records of the 1820 Settlers and other groups as well. The Contact and Conflict Gallery charts the history and cultural heritage of the frontier from 1812 to 1910.

The AmaXhosa kingdom exhibition showcases the Kings who have governed AmaXhosa nation from King Tshawe to the current reigning King Mpendulo Sigcawu, Aaah Zwelonke! The Songs for Freedom gallery depicts the life and times of Canon Calata, also know as JA or Tatou. The Anglican Priest and seasoned politician of the African National Congress (he joined the movement in 1930) was a prolific composer of church hymns. Landscapes of the Eastern Cape showcases important landscape paintings of the Eastern Cape from mid 1800s to 1900s. The leading artist is Thomas Baines, a well known painter during the Frontier Wars. He is supported by others like Simpson, Brown, Everrit. Be inspired by the beautiful landscapes of the Province where legends are born. From Soldier to Artist exhibition depicts the work of sculptor Ivan Mitford-Barberton who was born in Somerset East in 1896. He was a descendant of several 1820 Settler families. His grandmother was the naturalist, Mary Elizabeth Barber and he did his schooling at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown.

The Observatory Museum, currently under renovation, houses the Camera Obscura. Photo: Alex Oosthuizen

 

Experience our unique Camera Obscura

The Observatory Museum accommodates the only Victorian camera obscura in the Southern Hemisphere. Located in the turret, the camera obscura reflects living images of Grahamstown on a round table. The Observatory Museum was originally a shop and the home of the watchmaker and jeweller, Henry Galpin, who lived in Grahamstown between 1850 and 1886. The rooms are filled with antique furniture, bric-a-brac and various scientific surprises. You will be fascinated by the meridian room on the top floor where Galpin worked out Grahamstown time, resetting the clock in the turret each day. This Museum is extremely popular with tourists and has become an icon of Grahamstown. Currently the museum is undergoing construction and will be re-opened this year.

  • Reverend Linda Dyani works in the Marketing & Communications Department of Albany Museum. The museum continues developing and researching social and natural history collections with a strong emphasis on the Eastern Cape. The Museum is open from Monday to Friday 9am-4.30pm. The Museum is closed on weekends and public holidays. If you would like to join the museum community by becoming a Friend of the Museum, send your email to l.dyani@am.org.za or tel. 046 622 2312.
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