The Citizen (Gauteng)
Museum closed for limited time
REASONS: PANDEMIC AND FUNDS HAVE DRIED UP ‘There was no point remaining open without visitors.’
The iconic Apartheid Museum at Gold Reef City theme park in Joburg might have been dealt a blow by the Covid-19 pandemic – but the show will go on, says management.
Last week, the museum announced via social media that it was closing but director Christopher Till told The Citizen yesterday it wasn’t shutting its doors for good.
“It is not the case. Yes the museum is temporarily closed but it has been brought on by Covid-19,” Till said.
He said the museum had two sources of funding which it ordinarily relied on to cover its operational costs – both of which had dried up over the course of the last year.
“We depend on visitors and are not able to entertain sufficient numbers of visitors with the Covid-19 situation, where the borders are closed. This means we are not getting any international visitors,” said Till.
He added that it was difficult to arrange school trips to the museum at this stage. “So, temporarily, we had to close the doors to the public. But the actual work at the museum continues. The programmes and projects are still being worked on in anticipation of when we get to a point where we finally reopen.”
He said there was no point in remaining open without any visitors in the meantime and that other institutions were also grappling with the situation.
“We’ve had to look at the process of how we deal with staff in the interim and all those kinds of things. But there is no intention of closing the museum down at all.”
Till was positive the museum would in the end rise out of the ashes, like a phoenix.
Soweto-based tour guide Bongani Ndlovu, meanwhile, said the temporary closure of the museum meant a major blow to the tourism industry. “The Apartheid Museum is the biggest selling point in Johannesburg for tourists. It fits in nicely with the tour of Soweto and it gives tourists a closer understanding of South Africa.”
Ndlovu said he last visited the museum two months ago when he did a virtual tour for a group of American university students. Before that, he did his last in-person tour in November, when the museum officially reopened again after the initial lockdown.
Democratic Alliance Pretoria councillor Shaun Wilkinson said the temporary closure was sad and unfortunate.
He referred to a quote by Marcus Garvey: “A people without knowledge of their history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” –