Simply put, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, more commonly known as the Zeitz MOCAA, is a magnificent addition to the V&A Waterfront and Cape Town offering. Chantelle and I had for a long time been eager to visit the art museum since their grand opening back in September 2017, and come early January this year, we finally got around to walking through their impressive doors.
The Zeitz MOCAA lives in the wonderfully re-imagined historic Grain Silo (built in 1921 and decommissioned in 2001), with its space artfully carved out of the 42 densely-packed concrete cylinders that made up the original silo structure. The end result is a magnificent endless array of concrete curves and walls rising and falling around you, with a look guaranteed to leave a striking impression on any visitor that enters through its doors.
With the Silo Hotel and its stunning glass windows sitting high above you, the museum is scattered across a number of levels, requiring the use of either the spacious lifts or ornate metal staircase to access everything on show. (It’s well worth it though, because the higher you go, the better the views get!)
Interestingly enough, the Zeitz MOCAA is actually a not-for-profit public museum, commissioned through a public/private partnership between the V&A Waterfront and German businessman (and ex-CEO of Puma) Jochen Zeitz, with Zeitz’s extensive African art collection being available to the museum for the duration of his lifetime. In addition to these pieces, the chief curator also sources work from across Africa, resulting in an ever-changing collection of vibrant colours and cultural ideas.
Truthfully though, modern art isn’t really our thing (both Chantelle and I prefer the technical skill of classical art to the focus on idea that comes with contemporary art), but nevertheless there is more than enough to see, discuss, and make you think, that one can easily keep wandering through the museum’s many rooms for countless hours if you so wish.
It’s an incredible addition to the city, and injects a huge amount of life, feet and business into what used to be a pretty underutilized district. For art lovers it is a must see, and even for those of us that aren’t, it is well, well worth the visit – even if just to experience the amazing building itself!
A splash of colour and culture indeed.