Cape Town Is Now Home to Africa's Largest Contemporary Art Museum
New York has the MoMA. London has the Tate Modern. And now, Quartz reports, Cape Town, South Africa, is home to the continent's largest contemporary art museum, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), which opened its doors to the public on September 22.
The MOCAA is housed inside an old grain silo complex that’s been converted into a sleek, nine-floor attraction. Located in the city's Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the refurbished building provides visitors with views of the Atlantic Ocean when they aren’t busy perusing more than 100 galleries filled with works created by 21st century African and diaspora artists.
Many of the artworks on display are on loan from the private collections of the museum’s namesake, former PUMA CEO Jochen Zeitz. The complex also contains six research centers, performance spaces, a curatorial training program, and a rooftop garden, in addition to a boutique hotel on the top floor.
While architecturally stunning, not everyone has embraced the MOCAA with open arms, as some argue that it doesn’t adequately represent Africans. For one, the museum is named for a German sportswear mogul instead of an African figurehead. Its location in Cape Town has also proven to be contentious, with some saying that lingering bigotry against black residents makes the city a bad testing ground for a pan-African initiative.
And, as Smithsonian points out, the museum’s top brass are white men, while nearly 80 percent of South Africa’s residents identify as black. Many of these locals likely also can’t afford the museum’s standard $13.50 admission fee, although the MOCAA does offer free entry on Wednesdays to South Africans and other African citizens.
These contentions aside, gallerists, curators, and artists involved with the museum are hopeful that the new institution will shed much-needed light on Africa’s many talented contemporary artists, and serve to unite—not divide—Africans.
“We are all very excited about it, of course,” reflected renowned Nigerian curator Bisi Silva, according to Artsy, “but what we do definitely want to see is that it reaches out across the continent, and that’s something that’s sometimes not as easy from South Africa. I think that is going to be very important.”