Johannesburg, the legacy of South Africa’s gold rush, is a melting pot of history and culture. You may travel through time by visiting one of Johannesburg many museums, which cover everything from gold mining to the fight against apartheid. Many of these museums are conveniently located along the City Sightseeing bus route, allowing you to visit them while taking in the sights of Johannesburg.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of museums to visit in Johannesburg; rather, it is a basic guide to a few of the city’s museums worth visiting on your next vacation to ‘Jozi.’
If you want the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want, you might consider eating at some of the best Johannesburg restaurants.
Museums In Johannesburg
Constitution Hill, a restored jail that serves as a view into the past crimes of the Apartheid justice system, is located near STOP 5. At the old prison, great human rights champions like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were imprisoned, while equally heinous crimes against human rights and dignity were perpetrated. However, it now serves as a symbol of our triumph over the past, as well as a bridge to democracy and a bulwark for human rights.
The James Hall Transport Museum
Stop at STOP 12 to explore the James Hall Museum of Transport, South Africa’s largest and most extensive land transport collection. The museum serves as a window into Johannesburg’s transportation history, with over 2500 cars and other historical artefacts displayed in thematic exhibition halls. The museum’s first animal-drawn vehicles date back to the 1870s, while their automobiles come from the 1980s. Visitors of all ages go to the museum to witness the vintage steam locomotives, classic cars, carriages, bicycles and motorbikes, as well as service vehicles such as trams, buses, fire trucks, and more. In addition, admission to the museum is completely free!
The Apartheid Museum
The Apartheid Museum, located next to Gold Reef City at STOP 14, is an interactive museum that takes you on a journey through South Africa’s turbulent past and what happened there. It’s a journey of empathy and discovery, with many various viewpoints and insights into both celebrated and unsung heroes of the fight for equality, from the National Government’s division of the South African people through the fight for freedom. By the end of the journey, all visitors are asked to shift a stone from one pile to the next, committing to stand against all forms of discrimination in their daily lives.
Hector Pieterson Museum
As part of your Soweto Minibus tour, stop at STOP 13 to visit the Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial. The memorial is dedicated not just to the children who perished in the protest, but also to all the students who battled for freedom and democracy. It is named after the first children to be shot in the Soweto Uprising. It was their efforts and sacrifices that actually sparked the global demand for the end of Apartheid. Although the memorial is free to visit, the museum costs R30 for adults and R5 for children aged 6 to 12.
Gold Reef City Mine
Although you may not expect to find a museum in a theme park, the Gold Reef City theme park is constructed over one of South Africa’s oldest gold mines. The Gold Reef! The ancient miners’ office and residences may still be found surrounding this gold-rush themed amusement park, but the actual mine is even more interesting. Visitors can go on a mining tour that takes them 80 metres underground to see what it’s like to work in a gold vein.
Then it’s back to the surface for a live gold-pouring demonstration, where guests can watch gold being poured and cooled into bars. Gold Reef City is located at STOP 13, and the trip costs R110 per person when you display your City Sightseeing bus ticket at the entry.
This landmark edifice is well-known not just for its treasures, but also for being one of Johannesburg’s most well-kept structures. Space is also renowned for having a unique style of showing their exhibitions, which is another reason why the museum is global fame. It is located in the ever-evolving Newtown Precinct, near to the gigantic Market Theatre, which is one of the city’s cultural landmarks. The Museum Africa is arguable on of the top museums in Johannesburg.
Origins Centre Museum
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki inaugurated this world-class museum, which is dedicated to telling the story of South Africa’s first human beings. Various stone tools, artefacts, and specimens of some of the region’s first rock art painting are among the museum’s items that help to illustrate this important story.
Johannesburg Art Gallery
The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) in downtown Johannesburg houses one of South Africa’s largest art collections. The edifice, created by British architect Edward Lutyens, who also designed the Anglo-Boer War Memorial, will appeal to architecture lovers. Among the various painters represented in this gallery are Picasso, Monet, JH Pierneef, Walter Battiss, and Salvador Dali.
Bensusan Museum of Photography
Rare photography equipment, including an early Daguerre camera, is on display in the Bensusan Museum of Photography. Photographs ranging from wet-plate prints to works by local photographers are also on display. The Bensusan Museum of Photography’s exhibits teach visitors about photography’s various processes, techniques, and basics.
You’ll arrive to STOP 14 in Newtown Precinct, a historic district in and of itself, and a place of cultural significance for many. Newtown Compound, one of the last remaining examples of municipal compounds for black male employees, is home to the Workers Museum, one of many museums in the neighbourhood. Visitors can view the dreadful living conditions that black migrant labourers endured in order to provide for their family back home. Visitors can also tour the site’s white skilled workers’ cottages, which demonstrate the site’s stark segregation and inequality, as well as how the races were treated. Tickets to the Workers Museum are reasonably priced, with adult tickets costing R10 and children’s tickets costing R5.
Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind, the spot where mankind first emerged, is only a 90-minute drive from Johannesburg. Over 3.1 million years ago, the earliest recorded remains of our ancient ancestors were discovered in the Sterkfontein Caves. The Maropeng tourist centre offers a number of fossil exhibitions, and visitors can also explore the huge cave system, passing by the actual excavation sites where internationally renowned fossils were discovered. Restaurants, safaris, hotels, and conference centres are all available at the Cradle of Humankind, which is also a heritage site. There are also a variety of other enjoyable activities available, such as ziplining, horseback riding, and hot air balloon trips.
SAB World of Beer
On a lighter note, the SAB World of Beer, a brewery and historical institution describing the history of beer in Johannesburg and South Africa, is also located in the Newtown Precinct at STOP 15. The beer tasting and tour takes you through the history of beer and culminates with a visit to an operating brewery. A restaurant and bar, as well as a conference centre, are available at the venue. Children are welcome, but they must consume only non-alcoholic beverages. Tickets for the beer sampling and tour are R200 per person.
South African National Museum of Military History
This South African Military History Museum serves as a memorial to South African troops, and it takes visitors on a journey through the country’s war history, from historic military outfits and weapons to guns and military weapons. The museum is a fantastic resource for learning.
Adults in South Africa must pay R45, learners and students must pay R30, and international tourists must pay R70. The Military Museum is located at STOP 4 on the City Sightseeing route. The museum is one of the top museums in Johannesburg for people traveling for history.
Lindfield Victorian House Museum
When you enter the Lindfield Victorian House Museum, you’ll feel as if you’ve travelled back in time to when the country’s first inhabitants arrived. The property includes 22 rooms that are reported to be jam-packed with Victorian artefacts and mementos. The fact that the proprietor is also an experienced museum guide who takes care in knowing every detail about all of the things on display adds to the authenticity of the experience. For further information, go to this webpage.
South African Airways Museum
The only aviation museum in South Africa committed to the preservation of civil aviation. It features a collection of aircraft ranging from piston to jet engines and is based at the Transvaal Aviation Club building at Rand Airport in Germiston. Two Boeing 747 aircraft, a B747-200 and a B747SP, are housed in the aircraft park.
An remarkable collection of aircraft artefacts and memorabilia may be found in the Museum Display Hall. The library contains a fantastic collection of aviation books. The Museum also has a collection of operational Classic Propeller Driven Airliners that are still in service.