Above: Kendall Geers’ “Hanging Piece” (1993) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa

The Zeitz Museum Transforms Cape Town

It is a strange but inescapable fact that a single building can transform a city. Sydney has never felt remotely the same since the opening of the Opera House, nor has Bilbao after the debut of Frank Gehry’s titanium-clad masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum. Both places were suddenly perceived to be more important, more cultivated, more complex. Even London, scarcely a cultural desert, gained a new aspect to its multifaceted personality with the inauguration of Tate Modern in 2000. The city of Shakespeare and Dickens and Sherlock Holmes acquired a new veneer of cool when augmented by one of the world’s preeminent museums of contemporary art. And now it’s Cape Town’s turn.

A Kyle Morland metal sculpture outside the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

The new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which opened in September of last year, has provided a focal point for the city. Its location, the V&A Waterfront, suddenly seems more cosmopolitan, more sophisticated. And the bars and souvenir shops that once drew much of their business from cruise ship passengers are being replaced by ambitious restaurants and stylish upscale boutiques. There’s a creative buzz about the place that wasn’t there before.

The museum itself is housed within the 42 huge concrete tubes of a former grain-storage facility. These have been sliced and diced by architect Thomas Heatherwick to create 65,000 square feet of exhibition space in 80 galleries, as well as education rooms, conservation areas, a restaurant and a bookstore. At the center of the museum is a vast atrium, above which the truncated concrete shafts have been capped with strengthened glass so as to allow natural light to flood into the cathedral-like interior.

Join Andrew Harper today to continue reading our exclusive content.
Above: Kendall Geers’ “Hanging Piece” (1993) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town, South Africa

Read More from Our Trip:

Indelible Memory: A Poignant Visit to Cape Town’s Robben Island The Silo: Cape Town’s Modern Masterpiece