Please help save Museum Africa’s invaluable collections by notifying your Councillors and any press or media people you know of what is overtaking many of the collections. Silence and indifference will kill the Museum and the City insists on Silence. The curators have been warned not to talk about what is actually happening there.
The great collections of Museum Africa were damaged by water and now mould
On a Friday night at the beginning of November burglars got in by jumping down from the M1 onto the roof of Museum Africa, made their way in and stole taps and a wash hand basin. Then they departed leaving the water running all weekend.
Museum Africa has not been open to the public in Level 1, despite the fact that all other museums have been open. The Apartheid Museum, Ditsong Military History Museum and Lindfield the Victorian House Museum have all been open since we moved to Level One, but for some inexplicable reason that didn’t apply to Municipal museums – Museum Africa, James Hall Museum of Transport, Hector Pietersen Museum and the Museum of June 16th.
Had Museum Africa been open to the public the flood would have been discovered on Saturday morning instead of only on the Monday morning and far less damage would have been done.
The City has refused to explain to the Johannesburg Heritage Foundation or to Ward Councillors why the municipal museums were closed.
More than 200 photographs from the Bensusan collection have water damage. Mould is creeping into every storeroom containing a priceless collection of sketches, oil paintings and water colours of the journeys of early explorers, botanical artists, missionaries and cartoonists for over three centuries of our history. Documents, historical artefacts, the collection of costumes people may remember from the Bernberg Museum and many, many more are being damaged by mould.
The great legacies of collectors who entrusted these treasures to the City of Johannesburg are being irretrievably damaged by the disgusting lack of concern on the part of our Civic Fathers. Is it any wonder that David Goldblatt left his wonderful photographs to a university in the USA? How many collectors in South Africa today would give anything to this City which has no care for its treasured heritage.
"One man's ambition changed the way we would see the world, forever. William Henry Fox Talbot, polymath and pioneer of Victorian photography moved to Lacock Abbey in 1827 and created the earliest surviving photographic negative in 1835, taken of a small window in the abbey's South Gallery." (wikipedia)
Three of these negatives survive. One in the British Museum, London, one in the Metropolitan Museum New York and one in Museum Africa Johannesburg.
Of course no member of Johannesburg Mayoral Committee even knows what the Museum has because it never gives the Museum money for Exhibitions and no one asks or tries to find out.
Now even worse it hasn’t voted a penny for emergency work to conserve what can still be saved form the flood and record the documents photographs etc. which have been damaged. In about a year’s time they may get around to claiming insurance.
Action must be taken now! This is an emergency. Please share this appeal, contact the media and get in touch with your local councillor.
Johannesburg Heritage Foundation