Cool South African Museums!

This is a cool story. Apparently South Africa is home to two really interesting museums. The first is:

…the Origins Centre, a museum on the University of Witwatersrand’s central Johannesburg campus that uses science and art to trace man’s development. Visitors can get details of their own genetic makeup to underline one of the center’s themes: that all of us are connected through a common, African ancestor.
Then, a short drive northwest to caves where scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of some of man’s earliest relatives, and where the story of evolution is told with the fanfare of a theme park.

The second:

If Origins is where science meets art, Maropeng is where it meets entertainment. A tour starts, quite literally, with a splash. Awkward little rafts bump along a shallow manmade river through dioramas created with snow machines, lights, paint and plaster depicting the formation of the earth’s crust and volcanic and ice ages.
“We don’t like to call ourselves a museum — that sounds so staid and stuffy,” said Erica Saunders, Maropeng’s marketing manager. “We believe in edutainment. It’s taking something that’s incredibly scientific and making it entertaining.”
The boat ride takes visitors to a more conventional display hall, with an almost overwhelming amount of material to touch and interrogate. Replicas of fossils float from the ceiling in plastic bubbles. There are buttons to push, puzzles to complete, all accompanied by a murmur of audio and video commentary. Adults might find it a relief to enter the last exhibit, a glass-enclosed room in which precious fossils are displayed like jewels.

From there one can go to Sterkfontein:

For those with appetites for exploring, a tour of Sterkfontein Caves, a six-mile drive away, is a highlight of a Maropeng visit. Sterkfontein is the best-known of a dozen sites in the area where a wealth of important fossils and stone tools have been found.
Sterkfontein, formed 20 million years ago, was explored in the 1800s by prospectors who found limestone, used for cement and gold processing. Sterkfontein was also quickly recognized as a treasure trove of fossils, though it was not handed over to researchers until the 1930s.

Go read the rest of the article…

One Response

  1. Maropeng isn’t exactly a short drive away – maybe 45-60 minutes, if you’re lucky and there’s no traffic. 🙂
    I haven’t been to the Origins Centre (I must make the time sometime), but I’ve been to Maropeng. To be honest, I didn’t think it was good value for money (a rather steep R80 (~$8)); it seemed far more geared toward busloads of schollchildren. The Sterkfontein Caves are far better, with a small but nice museum, and a lovely cave tour.
    If you’re ever in the area, I’d be happy to take you along to either.

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