South Africa // Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula //

Gold of Africa Museum

Since the discovery of gold near Johannesburg in the late nineteenth century, South Africa has been closely associated in the Western mind with the precious metal and the riches it represents. However, the outstanding Gold of Africa Museum focuses on a completely different side to gold – the exquisite artworks crafted by nineteenth- and twentieth-century African goldsmiths from Mali, Senegal, Ghana and the Cote d’Ivoire. Arguably the most important such collection in the world, it traces Africa’s ancient gold routes, and includes several hundred beautiful items including precious masks, crocodiles, birds, a gold crown and human figures; the highlight is the sculpted Golden Lion from Ghana, which is the symbol of the museum.

There’s also a small auditorium with a continuous film show about the history of gold, a restaurant that serves pan-African cuisine with Malian puppets performing between courses, a studio where goldsmiths practise their art and where you can learn smithing, and a shop selling postcards, gold leaf and beautiful little souvenirs.

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