Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
|Location||V&A Waterfront, Silo District, South Arm Road, Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002, South Africa|
|Type||Art museum, Design/Textile Museum, Historic site|
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a contemporary art museum located at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world.
The museum opened on September 22, 2017.
Inception and development
The public not-for-profit museum was commissioned through a public/private partnership between the V&A Waterfront and German businessman, Jochen Zeitz. The Waterfront invested over R500-million towards its construction and infrastructure development, and although not a shareholder, Zeitz has loaned his extensive art collection for his lifetime. Considered by many to be one of the world's leading collections of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora, Zeitz's collection includes works by such eminent artists as Chris Ofili, Kudzanai Chiurai, Kehinde Wiley, Glenn Ligon, Marlene Dumas, Wangechi Mutu, and Julie Mehretu.
The Waterfront had been investigating a number of proposals regarding what to do with the historic Grain Silo since it was decommissioned in 2001. According to their CEO, David Green, the decision to transform and renovate the building for the new museum would "breathe life into the Silo district and act as a draw card to a venture that is non-commercial in nature ... specifically for the enjoyment of all the continent’s citizens". While others have noted that the strategic partnership with Zeitz also serves to connect the existing properties of the Waterfronts's owners (Growthpoint Properties and the Government Employees Pension Fund) with the developing financial district in Cape Town's lower CBD. The conversion of the Silo building began in 2014 under the direction of London-based designer, Thomas Heatherwick. In 2020 William Kentridge exhibited his apartheid-era work at the museum.
Location and architecture
The museum is located in the V&A Waterfront, on the banks of Table Bay overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Waterfront is considered a prestigious retail and hospitality property, and already receives around 24-million visitors per year. The museum's immediate surroundings, the Silo District, is also scheduled for further development.
The museum building was constructed from the conversion of the 57m tall historic Grain Silo, originally built in 1921 and decommissioned in 2001. The architects, Heatherwick Studio, aimed to conserve and celebrate the original structure's industrial heritage, while simultaneously excavating large open spaces from the 42 densely-packed concrete cylinders from which it was comprised. Using a variety of concrete-cutting techniques, the interior of the building was carved out to create a number of galleries and a large central atrium. Disagreements between the architects and director Mark Coetzee over the number of galleries that the museum had to contain ended in what South African art critic Sean O'Toole has described as "poky, low-ceilinged galleries, which often struggle to hold or reflect the ambition of the exhibiting artists". The remaining concrete shafts were capped with strengthened glass in order to allow natural light to enter and create a "cathedral-like" interior. From the exterior, the most noticeable change to the original structure was the addition of pillowed glass panels in the building's upper floors.
Overall the 9,500sqm complex consists of nine floors with 6,000sqm of dedicated white cube exhibition space. Additionally there are 18 educational areas included on one floor, a sculpture garden on the lower part of the roof, as well as a restaurant and shop. The higher part of the building operates as The Silo Hotel, which opened its doors in March 2017.
Zeitz MOCAA is a registered public benefit organization.
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