Restoration Of District Six Museum Venue At Buitenkant Street

Restoration Of District Six Museum Venue At Buitenkant Street

The old church that is the chosen venue of the Museum has been restored and renovated. This Methodist Church has for the 120 years of its existence been involved in issues of social justice. The restoration of the building has taken more than two years to complete, and the Museum reopened its doors on Heritage Day in September 2000 with a major exhibition called Digging Deeper.


While the building was being restored, the Museum continued its exhibition and educational work in other District Six venues such as the Moravian Church in the heart of District Six and the Congregational Church in Harrington Street.

There were four major forces that had a major impact on the operation of the Museum in the 1999/ 2000 period: the comprehensive restoration and renovation of the Buitenkant Street premises, location in the Moravian Chapel, the success of the Museum as a major tourist attraction and educational site, and the initiation of the Digging Deeper exhibition process.

The District Six Museum received major funding for the restoration and renovation of its Buitenkant Street premises from Sida, and the governments of South Africa, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands. The funding was intended and committed to the building project which was started in 1999.

LOCATION IN THE MORAVIAN CHAPEL

As a result of the restoration process, Museum relocated to the Moravian Chapel in District Six. This move had a number of repercussions in terms of the Museum's accessibility to large tour buses - the Museum was located at the Moravian Chapel for the whole of 1999, and only closed its doors there in May 2000 (the Sound Archive remained in premises leased from the Central Methodist Mission).

The relocation to the Moravian Hill resulted in increased parking and accessibility to large tour groups. This was a contributing factor towards the increase in the number of tourists and the positioning of the Museum within the established and commercial tour industry.

The District Six Museum has as its main commitment, the ex-residents of the District who were the priority visitor group to the Museum in Buitenkant Street. With the move to the Moravian Chapel, and the increased accessibility for large tour groups, there was a dramatic increase in the number of international tourists. At the same time, the township tour initiative that the Museum had been part of generating, grew consistently and was adopted by commercial tour operators. This constant stream of tourists made greater demands on the Museum Curio and Bookshop. Our bookshop now stocks an extensive collection of books by local authors, and a range of locally produced items, including hand-painted kitchenware, bookmarks, key-rings, etc.

Also see: http://www.seagullindia.com/archive/chapter10.pdf


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