Museums and Apartheid

Aron Mazel has recently published an extensive paper about the creation of the South African Cultural History Museum in the 1950 and 1960s that focuses on (i) the role that several apartheid ideologues played in this and (ii) the different phases leading to its establishment and the ‘twists and turns’ associated with them.

Nationalist Party Senator, DH van Zyl

Nationalist Party Senator, DH van Zyl, was a key figure in the creation of the South African Cultural History Museum.

‘In the 1950s and 1960s, white National Party (NP) and Afrikaner Broederbond (AB) ideologues and functionaries, who came to power in 1948, recast and realigned South African museums, to strengthen the ideological underpinning of Apartheid. Investigation of an extensive range of documentary sources housed in South African archives has led to the suggestion that the splitting of the South African Museum (SAM) in Cape Town, which led to the creation of the South African Cultural History Museum (SACHM), formed part of this process. The paper shows that (i) NP and AB ideologues increasingly dominated the SAM Board during the 1950s and early 1960s and (ii) their aspirations changed from the display of cultural history material, within the auspices of the SAM, into the establishment a fully-fledged independent SACHM committed to the presentation and housing of white South African and European material and history. The SACHM came into existence in 1964.’

Reference: Mazel, A.D. 2013. Apartheid’s child: the creation of the South African Cultural History Museum in the 1950s and 1960s. Museum History Journal. 6 (2): 166-202.

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