National History Museum


  • Temporary Exhibition

    18 December 2015

    Light-based Technologies

    A temporary exhibition demonstrating the nature of light and the use of different forms of light in  the natural sciences is now on display at the National Museum. 

    Electric light forms an integral part of the functioning of microscopes.  A simple but very effective method for extracting soil organisms from soil samples is based on heat generated by electric light.  Natural sunlight is essential for the survival of practically all life on Earth, but how do lizards make use of it?  Did you know that scorpions fluoresce in ultraviolet light?  And what is bioluminescence?

    Find the answers to these questions in the temporary exhibition at the National Museum, on display until 31 March 2016.

  • Marianna Botes, National Museum Cultural Historian, receives prize for best doctoral thesis (History) in Afrikaans

    15 October 2015

    The Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns introduced a prize to encourage post-graduate students in History to produce theses in Afrikaans and to reward high quality work.  The prize is known as the Protea Boekhuisprys and is sponsored by this publisher.  Dr Marianna Botes, Cultural Historian at the Museum, was the first recipient of this prestigious prize for her PhD thesis: Bloemfontein gedurende die bewind van president F.W. Reitz, 1889-1895: ʼn kultuurhistoriese studie.  

    In the photo from left: Prof. Wessel Pienaar, Chairperson of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, Dr Marianna Botes and Dr Nicol Stassen, owner and managing director of Protea Boekhuis publishers.

  • Night at the Museum

    25 August 2015

    The 2006 film Night at the Museum sparked the idea of having our own Night at the National Museum and we organised the first event at short notice on 23 January 2007.  Since our first attempt, the event has become bigger and better each time, and is now presented every second year.  From the start our Night at the Museum event proved to be extremely popular, with sold-out shows every time. 

    The displays will come alive again on Friday 18 September 2015.  There will be three sessions, each lasting 1½ hours, starting at 18:00, 20:00 and 22:00.  Tickets cost R40 for adults and R20 for children between 3 and 18 years old.  Boerewors rolls (R20) will be sold by Fractal, an ad-hoc committee of the Friends of Oliewenhuis Art Museum, to those waiting outside the National Museum.  Reserve your tickets by phoning the National Museum on 051 447 9609 or send an e-mail to shop [at] nasmus [dot] co [dot] za.

  • National Museum project for Mandela Day

    7 August 2015
    Tshepang Kitchen showing her “sunflower hands”
    Tshepang Kitchen showing her “sunflower hands”

    National Museum project for Mandela Day

    Every year, as its Mandela Day Project, the National Museum selects a local charity organisation to support.  This year the Museum donated a variety of articles to Sunflower Children’s Hospice, which cares for children with incurable and life-threatening diseases.  Apart from the more-or-less 15 patients staying at the hospice, the staff of Sunflower Children’s Hospice also cares for more than 300 children in the community. 

    On 22 July the director and some of the staff of the Museum handed over a donation of nappies, toiletries, toys, clothes, and new mattresses for all the cots.  As part of the festivities, a song and dance group from the Museum entertained the children. Cupcakes, balloons and “sunflower hands” were also distributed .



  • National Science Week

    28 July 2015

    National Science Week, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), is a countrywide celebration of science.  The National Research Foundation (NRF), an agency of DST, and its business unit the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), are responsible for the advancement and creation of awareness of the importance of science, engineering and technology.  This year is the International Year of Light, and therefore the theme for this year’s National Science Week is “Light-based Technologies”. 


    During the focus week from 1 to 8 August 2015 the public, educators and learners will be exposed to science-based careers through presentations by Museum scientists, visits to schools by the Mobile Museum accompanied by a scientist and education officer, and the distribution of posters, booklets and pamphlets provided by SAASTA on careers in science.


    For further information, please contact Ancilia van Staden (051-447 9609 or ancilia [at] nasmus [dot] co [dot] za).


  • Multidisciplinary international expedition to KwaZulu-Natal Province

    10 February 2015

    Dr Ashley Kirk-Spriggs, curator of Entomology and Dr Vaughn Swart, University of the Free State, organized a 20-day multidisciplinary international expedition to KwaZulu-Natal Province (19 November–8 December 2014). The expedition comprised 18 participants namely Dr Ashley Kirk-Spriggs and Ms Eunice Letsobe (National Museum), Mr. Burgert Muller and Mrs. Chrizelda Stoffels (KwaZulu-Natal Museum, Pietermaritzburg), Prof. Steve Marshall (University of Guelph, Canada), Dr Daniel Whitmore, Dr Ben Price, Ms Elizabeth Allan and Dr Steen Dupont (Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom), Dr Peter Kerr, Dr Shaun Winterton and Ms Laura Breitkreuz (California State Collection of Arthropods, United States), Dr Vaughn Swart and Ms Tanya Smit (University of the Free State) Dr Johann van As and Ms Michelle van As (University of the Free State, Qwaqwa Campus) and Dr Courtney Cook and Mr Edward Netherlands (North-West University, Potchefstroom).

    Participants worked on various specializations or sampling protocols, collecting insects (mainly Diptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera and Odonata) for general collection development or for specific projects. Blood samples of amphibians and reptiles were also taken to study insect-borne pathogens. Prof. Steve Marshall captured images of living flies for use in the forthcoming Manual of Afrotropical Diptera.

    Fieldwork was conducted at Royal Natal National Park and Ndumo Game Reserve.

    Back row (from left):Courtney Cook, Ashley Kirk-Spriggs, Burgert Muller, Laura Breitkreuz, Stephen Marshall, Edward Netherlands, Vaughn Swart, Peter Kerr, Daniel Whitmore, Benjamin Price, Steen Dupont, Shaun Winterton. Front row (from left): Eunice Letsobe; Johann van As; Michelle van As; Tanya Smit; Chrizelda Stoffels; Elizabeth Allan.

  • The Inquisitive Mind: Science and Imagination

    11 December 2014

    This exhibition at Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a representation of collected heritage items –natural history and cultural history objects – from the collections of the National Museum, through the eyes of artists.  Oliewenhuis Art Museum Education Officer, Yolanda de Kock, came up with the brilliant idea to “pair” departments at the National Museum with contemporary South African artists to observe the investigations, results and activities of researchers and use this information as inspiration to create artworks. 

    The project of combining research, education and exhibition fits the mission of the National Museum perfectly: to provide heritage resources and an enjoyable experience to all people through quality research, conservation, education and exhibitions.

    The Inquisitive Mind: Science and Imagination can be viewed at Oliewenhuis Art Museum until 1 February 2015.


  • Remembering Mandela

    5 December 2014

    Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

    18 July 1918 - 5 December 2013