National Museum, Bloemfonteinan agency of the Department of Arts and Culture
The fixed setting of museum environments has done much to contribute to the popular opinion of reverence from a distance, despite countless attempts by archaeologists to erode this belief. Recent museum discourses have explored the contentious issue of visitor experience. Sensory stimulation and educational communication aside, museums are caught up in an intricate web of identity politics. Exhibitions and educational endeavours are constantly being re-evaluated in light of new research into visitor experiences. Our first objective is to dispel the misconception that a museum is only relevant to the past. The aim here is to allow the Museum to connect with and link up to the present. The Rock Art Department endeavours to identify the needs of visitors and meet their expectations of a unique museum experience.
The Charles Street Display is a permanent exhibit that is housed in a specially erected building outside the National Museum, facing Charles Street. This allows passers-by to view the exhibit at all times without leaving the sidewalk. The display is the Knellpoort rock art panel that was rescued from being submerged by the construction of the Knellpoort Dam. With the assistance of the Department of Water Affairs and under the supervision of former Head of the Rock Art Department, Jannie Loubser, this 12 ton rock art panel was cut out of the rock shelter using an intricate drilling process that was completed in July 1988. Photographs of the panel’s removal and installation form part of the exhibit, as well as accompanying sketches of individual images and their descriptions. This information serves to make the exhibit easier to understand.