On a recent visit to Cape Town, I visited the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa or MOCAA, which is a reincarnated grain silo, designed by London based architects Heatherwick Studio. It is located at the historic V&A Waterfront below Table Mountain and is the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world. It’s amazing on several fronts, the architecture, the art collection and the beautiful setting.
A public not for profit museum, it is a partnership between the V&A Waterfront authority and German businessman Jochen Zeitz, who has loaned his extensive art collection for his lifetime. He is considered to be one of the leading collectors of art from Africa and its Diaspora. His vision was to create an art landmark in Cape Town and to create a platform for Africans to tell their story. MOCAA is already attracting 24 million visitors a year.
The museum is housed in the conversion of a 57metre tall grain silo built in 1921 and decommissioned in 2001. The architects aimed to conserve and celebrate the original industrial heritage while evacuating large open spaces from the 42 densely packed concrete cylinders that formed the silos interior. Using concrete cutters, the interior is carved out to create a number of galleries and a large central atrium where some shafts are capped with strengthened glass to allow in natural light, creating a ‘cathedral-like’ interior. It certainly has the Wow factor.
I found the art collection fascinating, having been brought up in countries such as Zambia and Swaziland, it was spine tingling to see the work of young contemporary artists such as Nandipha Mntambo, Michele Mathison, Zanele Muholi and Mohau Modisakeng – ‘telling their story’. This is a definite ‘must see’ for lovers of architecture and contemporary art.
Apologies for the photography – taken with my iPhone!