After Apartheid, a Fresh Look at History ; South African Museums Are Exploring the Once-Forbidden Subject of Black Culture

By Singer, Rena | The Christian Science Monitor, June 6, 2001 | Go to article overview

After Apartheid, a Fresh Look at History ; South African Museums Are Exploring the Once-Forbidden Subject of Black Culture


Singer, Rena, The Christian Science Monitor


For almost 40 years, they stood half naked under glaring lights in a museum of fossils, whale skeletons, and stuffed animal specimens. The exhibit on Southern Africa's first human inhabitants, the "Bushmen," was testimony to the long-held belief that blacks were subhuman, no more advanced that the antelope in the next room.

The removal last April of the controversial "Bushman diorama" from the South Africa Museum in Cape Town signals the transformation of this nation's museums in the seven years since the end of apartheid. Once shrines to white achievements and superiority, museums increasingly reflect the ideals of this diverse and newly democratic nation.

"Most museums are in the process of rewriting their exhibits," says Mauritz Naude, deputy manager of the National Cultural History Museum in Pretoria. "The boundaries have moved. And in some respects, there are no boundaries anymore." In this new climate, museums are examining subjects formerly forbidden. African art, history, and culture are finally receiving serious attention. Museum texts are printed in African languages - something unheard of during the apartheid years, when English and Afrikaans were the rule.

These new exhibits are giving South Africans their first uncensored look at themselves, and in the process, rewriting this nation's history. Mr. Naude's museum traded whitewashed apartheid- era exhibits on Southern Africa's first European settlers for displays on the tragic experience of a black community through colonization and white rule. Another exhibit challenges South Africans to take a fresh look at the ancient rock art found throughout the region. It draws comparisons between rock paintings made by Bushmen (also known as San people) thousands of years ago and Leonardo DaVinci's "Last Supper."

"Of course, we get some complaints about that comparison," says Naude. "Some people from the older generation are shocked."

The transformation has been so dramatic it is little wonder ordinary South Africans are astonished. Museums are completely rethinking not only their research, collections, and displays, but also their purpose. "We come from a past where we were told what we should look at and how we should understand it," says Naude. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

After Apartheid, a Fresh Look at History ; South African Museums Are Exploring the Once-Forbidden Subject of Black Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.