Welcome to the judicial capital of South Africa, a city known for its enchanting beauty and affectionately referred to as the “city of roses.” Bloemfontein is home to the prestigious National Museum, an institution that proudly upholds its motto – Curator Hereditatis, which translates to “custodian of our heritage.” With its remarkable collections and dedication to preserving the past, the museum stands as a testament to its role as a guardian of history.
Established in 1877, the National Museum has been collecting and showcasing rarities from around the world for over a century. Today, the museum places emphasis on natural history, cultural history sciences, and art, boasting an array of important collections that captivate visitors of all ages.
Notable for its extensive assortment of fossils, cultural historical exhibits, and archaeological displays, the National Museum in Bloemfontein proudly houses the Florisbad skull. This remarkable find was discovered in the 1930s at the Florisbad Spring, located approximately 50 kilometers north of Bloemfontein. It serves as a testament to the rich prehistoric heritage of the region.
Situated on Aliwal Street, at the heart of Bloemfontein, the National Museum offers a host of captivating attractions that will leave you in awe. From life-size fibreglass elephants to the only complete skeleton of Euskelosaurus, one of the earliest known dinosaurs, there is something to enthrall visitors of all interests. Explore the mesmerizing world of herpetology in the Herpetology Hall, where live snakes and other reptiles showcase the wonders of the natural world. Don’t miss the opportunity to delve into the extensive history of Bloemfontein/Mangaung, which provides insights into the city’s vibrant past.
The palaeontology, anthropology, and archaeology section of the museum stand as some of its most intriguing areas. Step back in time and imagine the world as it existed millions of years ago, surrounded by an impressive collection of fossils and archaeological artifacts. Among these treasures, you’ll find the Florisbad Skull, a remarkable specimen that offers a glimpse into our ancient past. The National Museum takes pride in its role as a custodian of our shared human heritage.
Dive into the ethnological section, where fascinating displays on the Bushmen await. Immerse yourself in their vibrant culture and gain a deeper understanding of their way of life. Additionally, be sure to explore the replica of a Victorian Bloemfontein street scene, offering a nostalgic glimpse into the city’s history. As you wander through the museum, you’ll also notice the Victorian-style restaurant, which complements the overall atmosphere perfectly. Before you leave, make sure to visit the museum shop, where you can browse a range of curios and gifts that celebrate the rich heritage of the region.
Popular Activities in and near the National Museum
While the National Museum in Bloemfontein itself is a treasure trove of knowledge and wonder, the surrounding area offers a wealth of activities, attractions, and points of interest to enhance your visit. Immerse yourself in the vibrant surroundings and embark on a journey that showcases the best of this captivating region.
Free State National Botanical Garden
Just a short distance from the museum, the Free State National Botanical Garden is a haven of tranquility and natural beauty. Explore the diverse plant species, stroll along scenic pathways, and relax in the peaceful atmosphere. The garden is particularly renowned for its impressive collection of indigenous South African flora.
Oliewenhuis Art Museum
Located adjacent to the National Museum, the Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. Housed in a stunning neo-Dutch style mansion, the museum showcases a wide range of contemporary and historical artworks. Explore the ever-changing exhibitions, attend workshops or art classes, and appreciate the beauty and creativity on display.
For panoramic views of Bloemfontein, make your way to Naval Hill. This natural landmark offers sweeping vistas of the city and its surroundings. At the summit, you’ll find the striking Nelson Mandela statue, a tribute to the iconic leader. Take a leisurely walk, pack a picnic, and savor the breathtaking views from this elevated vantage point.
Loch Logan Waterfront
Indulge in some retail therapy and enjoy a lively atmosphere at the Loch Logan Waterfront. This popular shopping and entertainment complex offers a wide range of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Whether you’re in the mood for shopping, dining, or catching a movie, Loch Logan has it all.
Anglo-Boer War Museum
Delve into the historical events that shaped South Africa at the Anglo-Boer War Museum. Located near the National Museum, this museum provides insight into the devastating conflict that took place between the British Empire and the Boer Republics. Explore the extensive exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that offer a glimpse into this pivotal period of history.
Adjacent to the National Museum, you’ll find the Fourth Raadsaal, a historic building that once served as the seat of the Free State Parliament. Today, it stands as a remarkable architectural landmark and offers visitors the opportunity to explore its rich history and learn about the governance of the region.
Franklin Game Reserve
If you’re looking for a nature escape within the city, head to the Franklin Game Reserve. This urban sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife, including antelope, giraffes, and bird species. Take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a picnic amidst the tranquil surroundings, immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the reserve.
National Women’s Memorial and War Museum
Gain a deeper understanding of South Africa’s history and the impact of war on its people at the National Women’s Memorial and War Museum. This poignant memorial pays tribute to the women and children who suffered during the Anglo-Boer War. Explore the exhibits, visit the memorial statues, and reflect on the resilience and strength of those affected by conflict.
As you explore the National Museum and its surroundings, these activities and attractions will complement your visit, allowing you to delve into the diverse facets of Bloemfontein’s rich heritage, art, nature, and history.
The National Museum in Bloemfontein offers a captivating journey through time, from the ancient past to the vibrant present. It serves as a beacon for those seeking to explore the natural wonders, cultural diversity, and remarkable history of South Africa. So, plan your visit today and prepare to embark on an unforgettable adventure at this esteemed institution.