Cape Town consistently rates amongst one of the world’s most breathtaking cities, and now there’s another reason to visit the vibrant ‘Mother City’ – the opening of the internationally acclaimed Zeitz MOCAA Museum of African Contemporary Art.
Housed in the architectural masterpiece that was once a grain silo in the V&A Waterfront’s Silo district, this nine-storey museum complex is the largest of its kind on African soil, wholly dedicated to 21st-century contemporary African art. Pioneered by the visionary German businessman and philanthropist (not to mention avid African art collector) Jochen Zeitz, the museum complex will showcase local and African talent, as well as international travelling exhibitions whilst also being an entertainment district with many designer stores, restaurants and coffee shops for visitors to enjoy.
The venue in Cape Town close to the V&A Waterfront area were specifically chosen as they are the most visited destinations in Africa with more than 24 million visitors arriving annually, as well Cape Town being the creative centre of the continent. Zeitz chose the V&A and silo building specifically, as ‘it is an iconic location in an iconic city, and will be situated in a historic landmark building. This will make my collection accessible to local, national, continental and international audience.’
When entering the museum it’s the magnificent interior that first takes your breath away. The grain silo was once a heritage structure (and the tallest building in Sub-Saharan Africa) built in the heart of a booming Cape settlement in the 1920’s. Completely rebuilt (42 vertical concrete tubes were cut open to create the arresting interiors) whilst still retaining the original silo, renowned British architect Tomas Heatherwick set to work to create another Cape Town icon. The result is truly mesmerizing with winding steel staircases and high ceilings that you can get lost in for hours, never mind the exquisite art exhibitions that lie hidden beyond. The interior seems almost dreamlike like you have stepped into a living, ‘breathing’ museum which was exactly Heatherwick’s intention. Heralded by Vanity Fair magazine as the ‘Pied Piper of Architecture’ Heatherwick added a glorious glass ceiling, as well as the now iconic multi-faceted windows in the upper part of the building which were modeled on a grain kernel and reflect light just like a sparkling jewel at night-time.
Inside, the artworks which are exhibited across over 6000 square meters of gallery space housing over 80 separate galleries showcase cutting-edge exhibitions from all over Africa, including Zeitz’s private collection. One floor houses an art education centre for school children with 16 education centres. You can literally spend days walking around the myriad of exhibitions marveling at their creativity and ingenuity featuring some of Africa’s finest talent working today such as Kendell Geers, Cyrus Kabiru, William Kentridge, Hank Willis Thomas, Nicholas Hlobo and Jody Paulsen, to name but a few. Nandipha Mutambo’s solo exhibition ‘Material Value’ is well worth a visit for its arresting use of cowhide spanning 5 rooms, whilst Kudzanai Chiruai’s mixed-media work, Marlene Steyn’s sculptures and paintings likened to the Dutch master Hieronymous Bosch, as well as Penny Siopis’s flowing canvases of wood glue and multi-coloured inks leave you profoundly inspired and touched by the incredible talent gracing this phenomenal museum.
The Zeitz museum is a true icon of this incredible city and will surely become the new cultural landmark of Cape Town and one of Africa’s most beloved public contemporary art museums.
For an exceptional world class hospitality experience, stay at The Silo Hotel which occupies the top floors of the grain silo.