Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first century art from Africa and its Diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all. Over one hundred galleries, spread over nine floors, are dedicated to a large cutting edge permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice, Photography, the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute.
The establishment of the museum came about through a confluence of factors. The V&A Waterfront recognised the significance of its Grain Silo complex as an historic landmark and for years debated possible uses. An art museum was eventually decided upon but a collection was needed. The desire was to house something of public civic significance, and something open to the public. It was through Ravi Naidoo that Thomas Heatherwick was introduced to the Grain Silo complex in 2006, and again in 2011. At the same time, Jochen Zeitz was working with curator Mark Coetzee to build a world class collection of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora with the vision to create the first major museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora on the Africa Continent. The meeting of these two visions resulted in the creation of the not-for-profit public institution since named Zeitz MOCAA.
Imagine forty-two 33 metre high concrete tubes, each with a diameter of 5.5 metres, with no open space to experience the volume from within. Imagine redesigning this into a functional space that will not only pay tribute to its original industrial design and soul but will become a major, not-for-profit cultural institution housing the most significant collection of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. The brief given to Heatherwick Studio was to reimagine the Grain Silo Complex at the V&A Waterfront with an architectural intervention inspired by its own historic character. The project called for a solution that would be unique to Africa and create the highest possible quality of exhibition space for the work displayed inside. The V&A Waterfront’s challenge to repurpose what was once the tallest building on the Cape Town skyline caught the imagination of internationally acclaimed designer Thomas Heatherwick and his innovative team of architects. This was a chance to do more than just appropriate a former industrial building to display art, but to imagine a new kind of museum in an African context.
As the director of institutional advancement and external affairs at Zeitz MOCAA, Elana Brundyn and her team are responsible for the opening events. she has been involved in the planning phases of the museum since January 2015 and, as a seasoned commercial gallery owner before joining Zeitz MOCAA, she has always been a firm believer in the power of creative industries. “the museum,” she says, “is as much about cultural philanthropy as it is about the best in contemporary art.”
Elana goes on to explain, “at its heart, Zeitz MOCAA is a project that celebrates creativity in Africa and the ways in which that creativity influences people beyond our shores. It is a platform for different voices and a means of honouring what makes us, as Africans, unique. At the same time, it’s an expression of philanthropy, a gift that makes cut-ting-edge art accessible to everyone.”
And to underscore this, everyone will have free entry to the grand public opening weekend from 22 to 25 September. Taking place after the preview weekend, this event will be truly pan-African, with two of the exhibitions featured being early career retrospectives of the work of Zimbabwean Kudzanai Chuirai and Swazi-born Nandipha Mntambo.
Among many other featured artists will be the Angolan Edson Chagas, best known for his award-winning Luanda, Encyclopedic City.
The creation of Zeitz MOCAA came about as a confluence of factors. The V&A Waterfront had long recognised the importance of its Grain Silo Complex as an historic landmark and for years had debated possible uses for it. Eventually it was decided that the complex should house an art museum, but a suitable collection for it had to be found. The desire was that it should be of civic significance and also open to the public. Meanwhile Jochen Zeitz, a German collector of African art, was working with curator Mark Coetzee to build a world-class collection of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. The meeting of these two visions resulted in the creation of the not-for-profit public institution subsequently named Zeitz MOCAA.
Daily admission R180.
First Friday Half Price: From 4 pm - 9 pm
Free entry for African citizens: Wednesday 10 am – 1 pm
Annual Membership: R250 per person per annum.
Annual Membership for over 60’s: R185
Wednesday to Monday
10 am - 6 pm