Sunday, August 30, 2009

An outing to the Iziko Museum

The Iziko Museum is in central Cape Town. It is a wonderful, imposing building at the top of the Company Gardens. But the contents are dreary, uninteresting and unbelievably badly presented.

We took the kids there for a morning out. They were bored. We were bored. And everyone around us was equally bored. It was cheap at R15 per adult, and children free – you once you had been through it you could see why!

We were informed that the Museum was under renovation. And the notice cheerily thanked us for our patience and informed us that the necessary renovations would be completed by 2007...
And this was the general tenor of the place. There were labels and indicators saying that this piece of crystal was from South West Africa and that piece from Rhodesia. Scruffy looking birds were labelled with such a tiny numerical indicator – that you needed a microscope to see it on the wall behind. There were ageing, tatty stuffed Lemurs and tired looking Anteaters. It was a truly depressing experience.

Perhaps the most interesting exhibit was a sorry looking 2 week old Quagga Foal (apparently the only one left on the planet). But placed in a dimly lit box, with a light switch above it which you could press (Yay! – some interaction at last) – but which then switched itself off before you could get a proper look at the thing!

There were some interesting whale sounds, as one contemplated a suspected skeleton of a Blue Whale; there were some really beautiful meteorites – but that, as they say, was that! I found it extraordinary that these unbelievable objects could be presented in as unimaginative a way as that! Just there – with a descriptive plaque and nothing more!

We adults were bored, because it was just that – boring. The kids were bored, because they are children of the 21st century. The youngest has seen hours of Animal planet. Why would he be remotely interested in a static, dead, stuffed animal?

Oh – and did I mention that the place wasn’t teeming with tourists? Gee - I wonder why?!

1 comment:

  1. Yes - agreed but you obviously did not see the brilliant exhibition downstairs in the museum [which is on till about March 2010] entitled 'Subtle Thresholds' - it is fascinating and beautifully curated - although not for small kids.