If you’re looking for something to do with the whole family this festive season, a visit to one of DITSONG’s many museums will serve as an excellent day out. From Natural History and Cultural History Museums to the famous Tswaing Meteorite Crater, DITSONG offers valuable experiences for children and undoubtedly has something for every member of the family. So the Creative Feel team jotted down a few recommendations.
Find some fossils at the National Museum of Natural History
For all the fossil-fanatics out there, the National Museum of Natural History is the only natural history museum in Gauteng and one of the largest in South Africa. Let your children be palaeontologists for a day and excavate fossils at the Fossil World of Bolts Farm Exhibition. Toddlers will also enjoy the Discovery Centre; a hands-on activity centre, where the five human senses are used to discover the wonders of nature, offering an invaluable educational adventure. It affords easy access for wheelchairs and display texts are also transcribed in Braille. This centre is ideal for younger learners that are eager to explore with their hands. A night at the Museum enables children to spend a fun night at the Museum exploring the exhibits after dark. They get to snuggle up next to their favourite exhibit afterwards. While you’re there, we also recommend checking out the Unsung Heroes exhibit, which documents the many technicians, field assistants and various others who helped discover and preserve South Africa’s natural history. You can also watch our interview with curator Teresa Kearney on the exhibit here, or read our Q&A with Junior Curator in the museum’s Palaeontology Section, Lazarus Kgasi.
Discover the unique collections at the National Museum of Military History
The National Museum of Military History is both a memorial for all South Africans who have died in, or as a result of military actions, and a museum for the preservation and contextualisation of the country’s military history for future generations. A uniquely interesting set of items on display is the museum’s collection of historical swords. Read this brief history of South African swords before you view the Chinese Paired Swords or Gladius short sword in their collections. This museum offers the perfect space for family picnics while children take selfies on the aeroplanes and fighter tanks.
Take a trip back in time at the Pioneer Museum
Looking to spend an afternoon in another time? While enjoying a cup of coffee and homemade bread, visitors can experience a way of life that has irrevocably passed. Children get an opportunity to bake bread in the 19th century oven, learn to make their own butter and play indigenous games. The museum offers braai facilities and beautiful gardens for family picnics. The stories of the Pioneer Museum and 1848 house, and of the people who lived on the farm, Hartebeestpoort, are enacted against the background of the pioneer years in South Africa. Find out more about the museum and the beautiful grounds here.
Travel through SA’s agricultural and transport history at the Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum
Before McDonalds, Nando’s, Uber, and Gautrain, South Africans had a host of other ways of filling their bellies and making their way about town. The Willem Prinsloo Agricultural Museum is home to both the remarkable history of agriculture in South Africa, as well as the unique forms of transport in the country. Farm animals roam around the museum taking us back to life in the farm. The Museum offers coffee grinding demonstrations, bread baking, candle making and Mampoer distillation.
Tour a grand old mansion at the Sammy Marks Museum
If you’ve ever wondered how one of South Africa’s earliest entrepreneurs lived, a trip to the Sammy Marks Museum is for you. The museum, which is Marks’ old highveld mansion, is filled with original items and possessions from the Mark’s family. Lavish billiards rooms, elegant studies, walls painted to resemble satin, and a whole lot of South African history can be found inside this beautiful building. This Museum is also ideal for filming and photography of vintage weddings. Read more on the Sammy Marks Museum and see a few images of the estate here.
See the Bratina of Russian Brotherhood at the Kruger Museum
The Kruger house, built in 1884, was the original home of Paul Kruger, President of the former Transvaal Boer Republic. The house has been refurbished to reflect the time when the President and his wife, Gezina Kruger, lived there. Beyond serving as a home to Paul Kruger and the relevant period of his presidency in South African history, the Kruger Museum also houses rare gems such the Bratina of Russian Brotherhood. Not sure what that is? Find out here.
Learn about South Africa’s cultural diversity National Museum of Cultural History
Various permanent and temporary exhibitions comprise the National Cultural History Museum, which explores South Africa’s cultural diversity through rock paintings and engravings of the San people, thousand-year-old Iron Age figurines from Schroda in the Limpopo Province, Alph Khumalo’s photographic exhibition, Poisoned Pasts exhibition and many more. Amidst the many wonders at the National Cultural History Museum is a host of hidden treasures, a missing heritage site, and a striking collection of ceramics.
Experience the natural wonders of the Tswaing Meteorite Crater
The Tswaing Meteor Crater in Soshanguve is perfect for a day trip. What is it exactly? Some 220 000 years ago a blazing stony meteorite the size of half a football field slammed into the earth’s crust. The impact formed a huge crater, 1.4 km in diameter and 200 m deep. This crater is one of the best-preserved meteorite impact craters in the world. To view the crater, visitors may take a 7.2km hike with scenic views of vegetation, wildlife (zebras, antelopes, monkeys, etc.). If bird watching is on your to-do list, this is the right place for you. It is located on wetland where bird enthusiasts may see over 200 species of birds. The site is also ideal for picnics and offers braai facilities. Self-catering accommodation is available for those wish to spend the night at the museum. Read up on the site and its various other attractions before you plan your trip, here.