The largest art museum to be built in Africa in more than 100 years will open during Heritage weekend, in Cape Town, in September 2017.
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on Tuesday marked the one-year countdown to the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA).
The opening will be the culmination of an ambitious four-year project to convert the historic Grain Silo at the V&A Waterfront into a cutting-edge contemporary art museum.
The museum, a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz, is the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. It will also be the first African institution to focus on new mediums through the establishment of different centres and institutes within the overall museum.
The Zeitz MOCAA will house different centres for photography, curatorial excellence, performative practice, art education and the moving image. It will also feature a range of gallery spaces, a restaurant, bookshop, sculpture garden, technical training areas, reading rooms and research labs.
Internationally acclaimed architectural designer Thomas Heatherwick has overseen the conversion of the 57-m-tall Grain Silo that was built in 1921.
“The Zeitz MOCAA brings with it a whole new set of opportunities,” De Lille said at the countdown event. She noted that Cape Town had become a centre of vibrant creative industries and that the museum was a statement of confidence in the sector.
De Lille said the R500-million investment in the museum, along with other developments such as the construction of a cruise liner terminal in Cape Town, would help boost tourism, build the Cape Town brand and create jobs.
When completed, the Zeitz MOCAA will be spread over nine floors, with 6 000 m2 dedicated to gallery spaces and 3 500 m2 to site specific exhibition spaces.
“This museum is a symbol, an icon, of the confidence we feel about being African, the confidence that we feel about our place in the world. And that’s what makes this so extraordinary,” commented Zeitz MOCAA executive director and chief curator Mark Coetzee.
The museum’s Access for All programme will ensure that nobody is ever turned away from the museum if they are unable to afford admission to it.
Once launched, the museum will be open from 10:00 to 18:00 every day except Tuesdays. Entrance fees are still being finalised but there has been an agreement that there will be free admission for under 18s.
Late Night Fridays will be held at least once a month, with half price admission, while South Africans and visitors from the African continent will get free entry on Wednesday mornings.