Contemporary art museum opens its doors in Cape Town

"All things being equal ...," on display through Feb. 19, will feature the works of Mary Sibande, among others. Pictured here, Sibande's lifesize sculpture "In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity."
"All things being equal ...," on display through Feb. 19, will feature the works of Mary Sibande, among others. Pictured here, Sibande's lifesize sculpture "In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity."

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), the world's largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora, opened its doors on Sept. 22. The museum is located in the reimagined Grain Silo complex at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and is expected to make the Cape Town region one of the leading art destinations on the African continent.

"It has been a long and challenging journey, but we are delighted that we have been able to create a platform of such scale and influence for Africa," said Mark Coetzee, executive director of the museum.

"By providing a platform for the incredibly talented and passionate artists across Africa and beyond, this museum fills a critical gap in the continent's art scene. I am proud to be part of this journey," said Kofi Annan, a Zeitz MOCAA patron.

Not only will the museum fill a gap in the continent's art scene, it will also help South Africa diversify its tourism offering for international travelers.

"Today's travelers to Africa are increasingly appreciative of creativity and art, wanting to explore authentic Africa and moving away from the cookie-cutter safari experience," said Henk Graaff, managing director of SW Africa.

According to Graaff, art is an integral part of African culture and speaks to the need of travelers to experience something unique and authentic while on vacation. "Art is definitely part of the immersive experience that today's travelers are craving. And, African art is truly unique," he said.

Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, said  he expects Zeitz MOCAA to become a firm fixture on any visitor's itinerary. "There has been a huge buzz internationally ahead of its opening, and it will once again showcase that Cape Town is a world-class destination," Duminy said. "There's nothing to rival it on the continent, so for art and travel enthusiasts it will be worth enjoying as a whole cultural experience."

On display in the sculpture garden through August is "Now and Then: El Loko Kyle Morland."

According to Duminy, the architecture and design of the museum are astounding. "Taking the old silos and converting them into an innovative space highlights the creativity we enjoy in the city," he said.

For Duminy, MOCAA will highlight the fact that there's so much more on offer in South Africa than just a limited set of experiences. He said: "Cape Town is deep into the 'travel like a local' trend, so every neighborhood allows for intimate, immersive experiences that are unique; that's what visitors want and what we provide. It's a great place all year round, and the rest of South Africa is seeing the value in creating fresh attractions to appeal to wider audiences."

Zeitz MOCAA includes more than 60,000 square feet of exhibition space in 100 galleries, a rooftop sculpture garden, state-of-the-art storage and conservation areas, a bookshop, a restaurant and bar and various reading rooms. The museum will also house a Costume Institute and centers for photography, curatorial excellence, the moving image, performative practice, and art education.

What to know about Zeitz MOCAA:

Normal hours:
Wednesdays to Mondays 10:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Tuesdays

R180 ($13) for single day entry.
Free admission to all under age 18
Free admission from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Wednesday, for all South Africans and people from the African continent
Half-price admission between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. every first Friday of the month.

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