Museum Africa provides the ultimate Joburg museum tour experience. Situated in the heart of jazzy Newtown, it offers a unique Afrocentric perspective on all things historical - from the first African civilisations through to our more recent politically volatile past. The museum is four storeys high, so make sure to book out your whole day to explore. Our favourite floor is the very top one, which showcases quirky science exhibitions and other miscellaneous wonders. You will leave this place feeling thoroughly enlightened.
Details: 121 Lilian Ngoyi St, Newtown, Johannesburg | 011 833 5624
Just a few blocks away from Museum Africa, you will find the Worker's Museum. This museum pays homage to the migrant workers of the early 1900s, who left behind their families for the promise of wealth and prosperity in the city of gold. Instead, they were met with incredibly harsh living and working conditions under the reprimand of tyrannical compound managers. The museum displays the original workers dormitories, with their cold concrete bunk beds. There is also an exhibition that reveals the "punishment room". While not for the faint of heart or sensitive of spirit, this museum offers an introspective look into the cruelty of humanity.
Details: Rahima Moosa St, Newtown, Johannesburg | 011 492 0593
Now this is one for the whole family. The James Hall Transport Museum showcases the most comprehensive land transport collection in South Africa. Their display includes animal-drawn vehicles dated from 1870-1910, bicycles and motorcycles from 1786-1960, buses and coaches, fire engines from 1877-1960, motor cars from 1900-1980, steam-driven vehicles and trams and trolley buses from 1896-1986. There are a few picnic areas around the museum, so pack a picnic bag to take along with you. Booking is essential for group tours.
Details: Pioneers' Park, Rosettenville Road, La Rochelle, Johannesburg | 011 435 9718 | [email protected]
The Wits Life Sciences Museum is the only natural history museum in Johannesburg. The museum displays include research and teaching laboratories, a large herbarium and live plants and animals. The main display area has skeletons, models and preserved specimens. Just outside the building there is an abundant garden with a peaceful water feature. Also hidden inside a glass display case, a lazy iguana sits waiting to surprise those passing by. Museum tours take place only on weekdays, so be sure to book your visit in advance.
Details: 33 Station St, Braamfontein, University of the Witwatersrand, East Campus, Johannesburg | 011 717 1000
Just a skip away from the Life Sciences Museum, the Wits Art Museum presents a wholly different set of archaeological treasures. This gallery space celebrates pan-African art and work produced in the diaspora. They frequently host international artists for exhibitions as well. Free museum tours take place between Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM - 4 PM. If you are new to the world of art, tag down a nearby arts student (they will most likely be sitting off quietly to the corner thinking about the meaning of life). Alternatively, pop into the WAM Cafè for a bite to eat. Their mini quiches are to die for!
Details: University Corner, Corner Bertha and Jorissen Streets, Braamfontein, Johannesburg | 011 717 1365 or 011 717 3158 | [email protected]
The Adler Museum is situated in Parktown, on the Wits Medical School campus. The museum houses a vast collection of medical documents, art installations related to medicine and displays depicting the history of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy through the ages. Visit the exhibition dedicated to the development of African traditional medicine, featuring a replica of an African herb shop and a patient consulting a traditional healer. Or, explore your fascinations with the medical world at the museum unguided for free, or pay R20 for a guided tour.
Details: 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg | 011 717 2081 | [email protected]
The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is the official home of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Situated in Houghton, the museum offers visitors a vast archive documenting the life, work and writings of the former statesman. The centre was opened in November 2013, exactly three years to the day after Mr Mandela last used the building as his office. His post-presidential office has been kept exactly as he left it.
Details: 107 Central Street, Houghton | 011 547 5600 | [email protected]
The ABSA Money Museum is the country's only banking and money museum. Situated in downtown Joburg, the museum traces the history of money usage back 4 500 years. The exhibition looks to when people exchanged commodities such as salt, seashells, beads and animals for services rendered. Coins and notes from all over the world are also on display. Ironically, for a museum all about money, the entrance here is free. All you need to take along is proof of identification.
Details: Barclays Towers West, 15 Troye St, Marshalltown | 011 350 4167 or 011 350 3003 | [email protected]
Credo Mutwa is one of South Africa's foremost traditional healers, believed to have the ability to foretell the future. He is also a respected artist and sculptor. The Credo Mutwa Cultural Village in Soweto is an open air museum display of Mutwa's sculptures made between 1974 and 1986. These sculptures and buildings depict African folklore, Zulu and Tsonga chiefs, traditional dwelling places, healing clinics and Mutwa's strange 'aliens'. Although in slight disrepair, this outdoor curation offers a museum experience unlike any other. Entrance is free daily from 6 AM - 6 PM.
Details: 991 Bochabela Street, Central Western Jabavu, Soweto | 011 930 1813
Do you know of any other free museum tours in the city? Let us know about them!
Children with an interest in science may have higher confidence levels than those who don't. This is because knowing how the world works the way it does, gives kids a sense of placement and understanding. Plus, science fields are always expanding, looking for a fresh young perspective. Get your child sparked up about science by taking them to holiday clubs and workshops. Otherwise, make a day of it and take the kids to one of Joburg's top museums. Once you have thoroughly explored the city's science centres, you can tackle a couple of DIY experiments at home.
The Sci Bono Discovery Centre is a dedicated science centre which caters to young minds. The centre supports maths, science and technology education. Sci Bono features over 350 interactive maths, science and technology exhibits, making it the largest and most visited science centre in South Africa. They host regular holiday programmes, as well as large scale exhibitions. Kids are invited to interact and play with the permanent exhibits at the centre. So, not only are they having fun, but learning at the very same time!
Click here to see what's currently being exhibited at the Sci Bono Discovery Centre.
Details: Corner of Miriam Makeba and Helen Joseph Streets, Newtown, Johannesburg | 011 639 8400 | [email protected]
The WITS Life Sciences Musuem is the only natural history museum located in Johannesburg. If your child has a keen interest in biology, archaeology or even just creepy, crawly things, this museum is definitely worth a visit. The main display area features skeletons, models and preserved specimens, as well as tanks with live fish and other animals. If you step just outside the museum, you can also meet WITS' resident iguana!
The museum is only open from 08:30 to 16:00 on weekdays, so take a day off during the school holidays to explore the natural world with the kids.
Details: 33 Station St, Braamfontein, University of the Witwatersrand, East Campus | 011 717 6467
The Adler Museum of Medicine is located at the WITS Medical campus in Parktown. The museum contains interesting and invaluable collections depicting the history of medicine, dentistry and pharmacy through the ages. However, what makes this medical science centre so special is the reconstructions of an African herb shop, a patient consulting a sangoma (traditional healer), a 20th century Johannesburg pharmacy, a doctor's consulting room, a dental surgery, an operating theatre and an optometry display of the same period.
If your child has a keen interest in medical science, this is the ideal place to take them.
Details: University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg | 011 717 2081 | [email protected]
Is your little one an astronaut in the making? Take them to the WITS Planetarium. Completed in October 1960, the WITS Planetarium was the first full-sized planetarium in Africa and the second in the Southern Hemisphere. Children aged 5 - 18 years old can learn about all the wonders space has to offer here. Adults are welcome, too, so tag along for a great learning experience.
Click here to see upcoming shows at the Planetarium.
Details: University of the Witwatersrand, Yale road, East Campus, Braamfontein, Johannesburg | 011 717 1390 | [email protected]
The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is a must-see for kids interested in paleontology, archaeology and natural history. Situated just 45 minutes outside of Joburg, this world class science centre offers kids and adults guided tours through the Maropeng Visitors Centre and the Sterkfontein Caves. So, make the most of your trip and learn all about humankind's fascinating origins.
Details: R400, Mogale, 1911, Krugersdorp | +27 (0)14 577 9000 | [email protected]
Live Kaizen is a kids science club, dedicated to building a strong foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in children between five to 10 years of age. They believe that by nurturing your child's curiosity, they can develop the skills to be able to master complex scientific principles. Their holiday clubs usually run for five to 10 days, covering a range of topics. Kids are encouraged to learn through interactive play, fun experiments and song.
Details: Cnr. Marlborough and Richmond Ave., Craighall Park, Johannesburg | 011 447 3973 | [email protected]
Little Scientists offer STEM orientated after school extramural activities for pre-primary and primary school aged children. They provide a happy learning environment for kids to play and experiment in. In addition, young scientists learn about noteworthy physicists, engineers and inventors to help inspire them and encourage a passion for the field. Little Scientists also offer Party Labs - science themed birthday parties! Featuring wacky experiments, science props and costumes, the Party Lab is the perfect way to celebrate your little Einstein's next birthday.
Details: 96 Olive Crest Estate, Northriding, Johannesburg | 072 980 5886 | [email protected]
Little Professors are based in Joburg and Cape Town. This kids science club combines STEM subjects with art, to give your child an all round learning experience. By allowing kids to express their inner creativity and curiosity, Little Professors put the fun back into science. Children as young as two years old are welcome to join the Little Discovery classes. These classes stimulate sensory play and fine motor skills, while teaching little ones about the world, including the introduction to numbers, shapes, animals, plants and bug life.
Details: Randburg, Johannesburg | +27 79 878 5903 | [email protected]
Nutty Scientists have been teaching kids all about the sciences since 1996. Their focus on STEAM subjects, as well as nurturing self-esteem in young minds is what sets them apart from the rest. They offer everything from after school extra murals, to holiday camps and special events. Give your child the confidence boost they need by enrolling them in one of the Nutty Scientists' fun classes.
Details: 38 Hans Crescent, Bryanston, Johannesburg | 083 675 8076 | [email protected].co.za
Prefer to do things your own way? No problem! Get your hands on the Little Professors STEAM science kits from Takealot. These nifty boxes include fun DIY experiments and activities to keep you and the kids busy for hours. If you want something a little more advanced, check out Toys R Us' range of science and robotic kits. Our top choice is the 4M Salt Water Powered Robot. Simply assemble the robot, add salty water to the power compartment and off it goes! Also, check out our helpful article on at home science experiments to do with the kids.