Posts Tagged ‘Durban Natural Science Museum’

Visit to the Durban Natural Science Museum and Art Gallery

January 27th, 2010 Fred 1 comment

During our short holiday in Amanzimtoti, we drove out to Durban on Saturday 16 January.  My mother-in-law, Daleen, wanted to visit some of the flea market stalls.  Unfortunately, these were closed and we were looking for something to do.

I vaguely recalled visiting the Durban Museum (or more formally the Durban Natural Science Museum) as a child.  I also seemed to remember that it was somehow close to the Durban City Hall.  A quick look on the GPS confirmed that there were indeed a museum located by the Durban City Hall.  So off we went.

The Durban City Hall is a beautiful old building.  I read on the Internet that the building was completed in 1910, and that it is build with Edwardian neo-Baroque architecture.  I have no idea what this type of architecture is, but I found it to be really beautiful.

The building is decorated with many small sculptures.  We didn’t spend a lot of time outside the building, but I am sure that if you took the time, you would see many wonderful small details.  At the moment, some parts of the building is being renovated.

There are also many beautiful statues in the garden in the front of the building.  They seem to commemorate the Anglo-Boer war (one of the statues read that the statues commemorate those who died in the period 1899-1902, and from there my inference).  The statues seem to be of people with English names, so I presume it in honour of the English side of the war.

I seem to recall that there were big statues of animals (as part of the museum display) in the garden as well, but I may be mistaken.

Walking down the street on the way to the entrance of the museum (on the side of the City Hall), we saw the Royal Hotel across the street.  This is the subject of a famous Afrikaans song by David Kramer, Royal Hotel, and I just can’t help thinking about the lyrics:  “Hier sit die manne in die Royal Hotel, ek ken mos vir almal ek is almal se pel, luister ou vrind daar agter die bar, hoe lyk dit met nog so ‘n doppie daar!”

Just a little further down the street was this interesting little building.  I have no idea what this building is all about, but it looked quite “cute”.  I looks quite European in its architecture.

Erik was riding on his Oupa Willie’s shoulders as we were walking.  For a moment, it looked like he may fall asleep, but it true Erik style, the tiredness only lasted for about 10 seconds….

And so we entered the Durban City Hall through the side entrance.  There is a public library on the first floor, the Durban Natural Science Museum on the second floor and the Durban Art Gallery on the third floor.  What surprised me greatly was that there were so few people visiting these, especially since entrance is completely free.  I guess in today’s age, most people don’t care much for culture.

The building’s interior is just beautiful, complete with red carpets on the stairways.  The rails are beautifully decorated, the tiles are laid out with interesting patterns, and the roofs have large open and intriguing spaces.

The Museum is mostly decidated to the display of various forms of animal life, mostly birds, mammals and insects.  In the first section, we walked through an area with many displays depicting various South African birds.  Erik enjoyed it very much, and was running around looking at the birds and saying “Ha-ha” (Where we live, the hadidas usually come to drink water in our swimming pool, and the sound they make is ha-ha, and so Erik associates that sound with birds)

They also have a large section on mammals.  I find it interesting to see all the trouble they have to go through to set up all the displays.

This is a Japanese Spider Crab.   When stretched out, this one has a span of 4m from tip to tip of those giant claws.  They say that there are ones that grow to have a span of 8m…. this truly scares me!  It is like something out of a horror movie.  Remind me never to enter any water in Japan….

What would a museum be without a giant dinosaur!

Just below the dinosaur is this crocodile.   We posed Erik on the croc to take a photo.  As we moved on the the next display, Erik ran back to the croc and got onto it himself, riding it like you would do a horse!  He has really shown the croc who is the boss!

After the museum, it was time for a quick break (and a nappy change)!

And so we headed to the third floor which houses the Durban Art Gallery.  One of the halls is filled with cables, tied from one end of the room to the other end.  Although I have no idea what this is for (probably just for the sake of having the cables…), I found it quite expressive in a way.  It is refreshing to think that the art gallery are willing to host a hall just filled with cables.

Walking through the cabled hall, there is another hall with some art by a black South African, a Mr Hobo, so I guess this can be called “Hobo Art”.  He made eight different sculptures from different materials such as rubber.  The room is tinted red through a lamp with a red bulb, giving it a very peculiar feeling.

The main display room has various pieces of mostly modern art, such as the one pictured below.  Some of them are very disturbing and provocative, which I find strangely attracting.

And then there is the future of transport…. this bicycle comes complete with a built in TV and video player.  I am sure by adding a dynamo one might actually get it up and running outside the confines of the art gallery…

I enjoyed our visit to the museum and art gallery – it was quite interesting.