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Founded Since 1850
The South African museum founded in 1825 and situated in the historic Company’s Gardens has seen millions of visitors all attracted by the vast historical collection the museum has to offer, which ranges from fossils to ancient insects and historical tools. A visit to this museum is not only culturally enriching, but the impressive natural collection will also ignite a spark of interest in learning more about the creatures with which we share our planet with.
The South African Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance. The collections now range from fossils, which are almost 700-million years old to insects and fish caught last week. There are also stone tools made by people 120 000 years ago, traditional clothes from the last century, and T-shirts printed yesterday.
The South African Museum was founded in 1825. In 1897 the Museum moved to its present building in the historic Company’s Garden. Since then millions of visitors have wandered its halls and corridors to be stimulated and inspired by its collections and exhibitions. They have left the Museum with a better understanding of the earth and its biological and cultural diversity, past and present.
Did you know?
For every object on exhibition at the South Museum, there are thousands more carefully stored away. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance.
For nearly 200 years scientists at the Museum have been adding to these collections and studying them.
Only machine-made objects and clones can be exactly the same. Each natural object is slightly different from all the others. We need many examples of each type or species of animal to find out how they vary so that we can be sure we have identified them correctly.
We must collect different animals from one place to find out how many there are. We must also collect many examples of each kind to find out which ones are most common. This helps us understand how all animals and plants contribute to making our environment work.
Why keep collections?
Without museum collections we would have no permanent record of extinct animals like dinosaurs. Neither would we have examples of artefacts made by our ancestors two million years ago or cultural objects used by people over the centuries.
Today’s collections will show our grand-children what our world was like.
If more species become extinct, examples already safely stored in a museum will be the only direct evidence that they ever existed.