Did you know that visiting a museum is in most travellers' to do list? Were you aware that academic institutions rely heavily on museums to enhance their programmes of study? Every country in the world has some sort of museum and they store and exhibit the objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest. From Michael C. Brook’s book Botswana Monuments, Heritage sites and Museums, Arts & Culture compiles Botswana’s 12 museums.
Botswana National Museum and Art Gallery
Established in 1967, the national Museum and Art Gallery also known as the Botswana National Museum is located in the country’s capital of Gaborone. In 1973, an art gallery and auditorium were built and the museum now also has a well-utilised library, information centre and a video/photographic section. In 1979 a mobile museum education was introduced. It displays traditional and cultural Botswana crafts and paintings. The art galleries policy is to provide a home to art and culture and make people aware of their own artistic heritage.
Kgosi Bathoen II Memorial Museum, Kanye
The museum was opened in 1988 and is housed in the old district Commissioners offices next to his residence in Kanye. The building was also used as a clinic at a later date. Kgosi Bathoen II started a museum in Kanye in the early 60s using the old London Missionary society building. Unfortunately, only a few subscribed to the idea of conservation of heritage and historical monuments and the museum closed due to lack of funds.
The museum can arrange guided tours to local heritage sites, including the old cemetery, the Kgotla buildings, Mmakgodumo Dam, the grain silos and the King George V Memorial Hall.
The old Kanye prison, also a protected monument is located just a stone’s throw away from the museum. The museum has geology, mining section, a cultural part and a history of the Kgosi of the Bangwaketse.
Kgosi Sechele I Museum, Molepolole
Housed in the former colonial police station office and residences (1902), the Kgosi Sechele I Museum’s exhibitions seek to preserve the fast disappearing culture of the Bakwena people. It depicts the history of Bakwena and has become a tourist attraction site in the village of Molepolole.
The museum offers an arts and crafts programme, educational programme for school children and guided tours of the village. Other activities include hosting events like the Kwena Craft producers’ exhibitions. The museum also includes a library that keeps all the books and records of Dr A.M Merriweather who was a doctor and evangelist at the nearby Scottish Livingstone Hospital.
Khama III Memorial Museum, Serowe
Located at the base of the Thataganyane Hill, the Khama III Memorial Museum opened its doors officially on the 19th October 1985. It was established with the aim of creating cultural pride and awareness amongst the people of Serowe. The museum is housed in two buildings one known as the “Red House” because of its red roof, built around 1910, and the other which serves as a garage and workshop, both of which were donated by Keapeetswa Khama. At the museum a collection of Bessie Head’s writings can be found along with her life history. The museum also contains a lovely collection of furniture, uniforms, correspondence and photographs that chronicle the legacy of the Khama family and the history of Serowe. There are also exhibits on African insects and snakes.
D’Kar (Kuru) Museum) and Cultural Centre, Ghanzi
D’Kar is the home of the Kuru museum and Cultural Centre at Ghanzi in the western Botswana, established in 1999 by the Kuru Development Trust, an NGO. It supports preserving San (bushman) culture through education, training, marketing and sales of San crafts and art. The museum is located 35km from Ghanzi, on the road to Maun. The museum houses beautiful displays of hunting attributes, veldt foods, clothes, musical instruments ornaments and crafts. Kuru art is unique and now known all over the world.
Nhabe Museum at Maun
The museum which opened in 1995, is in a historic building built by the British military in 1939 and used during World War II as a surveillance post keeping eyes on German Namibia. It was established in support of the cultural, artistic, poetry, educational and historic aspirations of the Ngamiland’s people and to promote cross cultural awareness and understanding.
The Diamond museum at Orapa
The Orapa Museum is an initiative which was part of the late Dr. Adrian Gale’s (General Manager, Orapa, Letlhakane and Damtshaa mines 2012-2015. The museum showcases the story of the discovery of the diamonds in Botswana in Orapa in 1967. The museum is divided into two main sections: Permanent Exhibition Gallery/Hall and a Temporary Exhibition Gallery/Hall, to be developed at a later stage. The museum opened in March 2018.
Phuthadikobo Museum at Mochudi
The Phuthadikobo Museum, established in 1976, is the first of Botswana’s district Museums, and is housed in the old Bakgatla National School building, Botswana’s first National school which was built between 1921 and 1923. The Museum was the brainchild of Sandy Grant, former teacher of Molefi School with the help from Kgosi Linchwe II and some Bakgatla citizens. Today the museum is administered by a registered Trust and receives visitors from all over the world. On display are many original photographs of the area dating back to the end of the 19th Century. Also on display are old woven baskets, tapestry from Oodi weavers, art, old agricultural equipment.
Supa Ngwao Museum at Francistown
Housed in the 100-year-old government enclave of the British Protectorate, the Supa Ngwao Museum includes a prison, magistrates court and a police canteen and has very interesting displays about local and regional culture and history. The Museum was registered in 1986 but started operating in 1992. It contains exhibitions on the culture and history of the Kalanga people, as well as photographic exhibition on the history of Francistown and Botswana.
Tsodilo Hills Museum
Tsodilo Hills, an early Iron Age site, called Divuyu, dates between 700-900AD and is home to around 4,500 rock art images at 400 sites. It was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
The Museum is located at the entrance to the main (Rhino) Campsite with a handful of ethnographic exhibits and wall sized quotes about the individual rock art.
Former President Festus Mogae officially opened the Museum in 2001 and it holds two permanent exhibitions called “Tsodilo” and “My Tsodilo. The Musem displays archeological finds, the excavated three rock shelters, namely the White painting, Depression Rock and Rhino Cave.
Botswana Philatelic Museum, Gaborone
The Botswana Post philatelic museum was set up in 1999 when HQ of BotswanaPost moved from The Mall to the current, impressive multi story tower in central Gaborone. BotswanaPost has its origins way back in 1863 when the “Runner Post Service was established. The museum, which comprises multiple 2-way glass display cases hanging from the wall and other showcases full of stamps and first day covers and memorabilia, possesses stamps dating back to 1886, in the times of the British Protectorate.
Samora Machel Museum, Lobatse
The Samora Machel museum was opened in 2016 and is a joint venture between the Botswana and Mozambique governments, symbolising the values of freedom and independence of nations.
Samora Machel, President of Mozambique from 1975 until 1986, when he died in a plane crash in Mbunzi, South Africa, was a liberation fighter with the Front for Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO). In the early 1960s in Peleng, Lobatse, Machel met Motswana, Kgaboesele who collaborated with him in the liberation of Mozambique. On your next trip please consider visiting one of Botswana’s wonderful museums. Entrance to all museum is free and local museum staff are also at hand to give you other attractions in the vicinity. (Powered by Mmegi)