Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Red Location Museum
The Red Location Museum is situated within the oldest township in South Africa, New Brighton. This massive informal settlement is on the outskirts of the industrial area of Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay and represents a huge segment of the local population.
Where? On the corner of Olof Palme and Singaphi Streets Streets, New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
When? Open Monday to Saturday from 09h00
How? Call +27 (0)41 408-8400
This vibrant township also has a complex history, one that resonates with local residents as well as South Africans on a broader scale. In fact, the world as a whole knows of the Apartheid regime, its tragedies and its victories, and these are aptly represented at the Red Location Museum. The Museum is part of the Red Location Cultural Precinct; an urban renewal area and programme that is an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. It is dedicated to exposing the atrocities and sadness of the Apartheid regime, but also to celebrating the life and culture of the South African people in all of their diversity and resilience.
Red Location opened its doors in 2005 and was designed by Noero Wolff Architects after being commissioned by a foreign couple that wanted to share their personal encounter with this beautiful land in a new, modern, optimistic way. Its progressive design earned it the RIBA’s Lubetkin Award, which is an esteemed international award. The materials used for its construction include corrugated iron, wire, concrete and wood as apt representations of the resources and “style” of townships.
The Red Location Museum is different from its counterparts for many reasons. For one, it involves visitors in a hands-on way, immersing them into the life and culture of the townships, rather than simply displaying it before them. Secondly, the sheer scale of the building and its exhibitions forces one to see, perceive and feel in a very tangible, real way. Massive black and white photographs of anti-Apartheid role-players, for example, are exhibited on pillars that are many metres high, while shacks are represented by storeys-high blocks in the middle of the enormous space, covered in the iconic red corrugated iron for which they have become known.
Each internal column, known as a memory box, houses a different themed exhibition, and invites visitors to be part of the informal settlements, both past and present. One houses named boxes containing the memories and treasures of those who were killed at the hands of white officials, while ominous nooses hang overhead. Another has been designed to reflect a typical shack, complete with its outside bucket toilet system and neighbour to indicate the size of the dwellings and the conditions in which folk live. There are 12 such memory boxes, each of which is a staggering 12 metres tall, allowing the museum a fantastic space in which to convey the facts, coupled with the emotional aspects of township living.
The Red Location Museum is situated on the site at which the first Umkhonto we Sizwe branch in the country was launched, as well as the location of the first Defiance Campaign arrests. This sense of history permeates the walls, photographs and smiling faces of the museum.
The museum has an art gallery as well as a well-equipped auditorium for presentations and educational sessions.