Museum of Military History, Johannesburg
If you are even vaguely into weapons, military aircraft, medals, uniforms and other war memorabilia, then the South African Museum of Military History set on Erlswold Way in Saxonwald, Johannesburg - literally next door to the Johannesburg Zoo - is obligatory.
During the First World War many of the countries involved in the fighting spent time collecting and preserving records of the role of their soldiers. For instance Britain established the Imperial War Museum, but South Africa failed to start any form of a museum and a lot of the material relating to the period was lost. It was shortly after South Africa entered the Second World War that efforts began to preserve documents and materials, and an Historical Research Committee was set up. Interestingly the state appointed seven war artists who were present at the front. The collection of over 800 art pieces that followed serves as a form of reference to South Africa’s role in the war.
The museum opened only in 1947 and was called the South African National War Museum. It was changed in 1975 to the South African National Museum of Military History. It holds a collection of over 44 000 items from both world wars and the civil war against Apartheid, divided into 37 categories that include photographs, the art collection and some of the rarest aircraft in the world. The Museum of Military History also has a library with a unique collection of journals, archive material and books, and some 80 000 people visit annually.
Address: Erlswold Way in Saxonwald, Johannesburg.
Telephone: +27 (011) 646-5513.
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