Major art gallery opens in Cape Town

The largest contemporary art gallery in Africa has opened its doors to visitors in what was one of the biggest cultural occasions on the continent for some time.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which is housed in a converted grain silo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, has been described as Africa’s answer to the Tate Modern art gallery in London and has the bold design to match.

Towering above the harbour, the outside of the structure is made up of honeycomb lattice windows reminiscent of insect eyes which reflect multiple views of the city, the sky and the sea.

The 100 galleries spread over nine floors, designed by English architect Thomas Heatherwick and costing £28million in the construction phase, will contain a wide spectrum of 21st-century work from Africa and is based primarily on the loaned private collection of former Puma CEO Jochen Zeitz. The museum is the largest of its kind in Africa.

The museum strikes you as soon as you walk in thanks to its dramatic atrium centrepiece. Similar to the great dinosaur which used to reside in the atrium of London’s Natural History Museum, in the Zeitz Museum there hangs a dragon whose head is a ram’s skull.

There is a lot of history to the institution, too: the silos were built above coal sheds that once supplied steamships and the area itself used to be 19th-century harbour basins before it was regenerated 30 years ago for real, real estate and tourism.

An extra treat for tourists is that there is a boutique hotel at the top of the building waiting to welcome you after a day of enjoying the artwork!