Africa is the home of our evolutionary transformation into human beings, so it comes as no surprise that the world’s best collection of information on the origins of humans is housed there. The Origins Centre in Johannesburg is a celebration of human history bound to please any visitor to South Africa.
The Origins Museum is the thing to see in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Opened in 2006, the world-class museum covers some 80,000 years of human history. Starting with the origins of human kind, it showcases the development of communication and art through rock paintings and covers up to the most recent technological innovations. It houses a collection of ancient tools, early spiritual relics and a huge collection of historical artefacts that help trace the evolution of humans on the African continent.
The highlight of the museum is the extensive collection of rock art, some of the earliest images made by humans. The rock art collection comes solely from southern Africa, offering an insight into the complex history and development of early humans in the region. The world’s oldest continuous art form is accompanied by multimedia displays explaining the meaning of the symbols, the development of art practices and the importance the rock art held for early civilisations.
The museum is located at the University of Witwatersrand and is easily accessible by car, bus or taxi. The best bus route to take is the inner city C3 – hop off at Jorissen or De Korte streets for a five-minute walk to the centre. Two hours should be plenty of time to engage with the exhibits, explore the emergence of human beings and celebrate the history of our species. Tours are available, or you can lead yourself using the narrated audio guide on offer. Don’t forget to leave time to buy some excellent handcrafts at the gift store or take a break at the in-house coffee shop. It might also be worth checking out the public lecture schedule or the fortnightly film screenings for a different way to soak up Africa’s genetic heritage.