Mu­se­ums show­case SA’s place in his­tory

From an­cient Egyp­tian relics and some of the world’s ear­li­est art to glimpses of the for­ma­tive ac­tiv­i­ties of south­ern Africa’s 19th cen­tury ex­pan­sion, the Cape’s plat­te­land mu­se­ums are a trove of note, writes MICHAEL MOR­RIS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

BASED at the aptly named “Laaiplek” – which he owned, then – Jo­han Carel Stephan of St He­lena Bay ran a fish-for­grain trad­ing en­ter­prise which, with a fleet of cut­ters ply­ing the Berg River, linked the wheat farm­ers of the Moor­rees­burg hin­ter­land with the flour mills and bak­ers of Cape Town.

The boat­men, man­ning some 60 cut­ters, went up­river with dried and salted fish, which they traded for wheat, re­turn­ing to the coast with the grain, which was trans­ferred to larger boats out in the bay, Rooibaai, and sent on down to Cape Town.

To­day, over­look­ing the set­ting that once wit­nessed all this ac­tiv­ity, is the SA Fish­eries Mu­seum in De Vil­liers Street, Laaiplek, among whose ex­hibits on the re­gion’s fish­ing tra­di­tions is an ac­count of the re­source­ful Stephan’s late 19th cen­tury com­mer­cial scheme.

It is one of 11 coun­try mu­se­ums cel­e­brated in a Cape Winelands and West Coast Mu­seum Route brochure pro­duced by the Western Cape’s De­part­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs and Sport to mark In­ter­na­tional Mu­seum Day last month.

Each mu­seum has its own distinc­tive char­ac­ter and col­lec­tions – in­formed by each town or com­mu­nity’s place in the evolv­ing so­ci­ety and econ­omy of one of

Each mu­seum

PIC­TURES: SUP­PLIED

A finely crafted model of a trawler (left) at the SA Fish­eries Mu­seum in Veld­drif, and (above) the famed Ran­some thresh­ing ma­chine, ‘The Pink Lady’, at the Wheat In­dus­try Mu­seum in Moor­rees­burg, ac­knowl­edged as one of only three “wheat mu­se­ums” in the world.

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