World's largest museum for modern African art to open in South Africa

CAPE TOWN, Kristin Palitza (dpa) – British architect Thomas Heatherwick and German businessman Jochen Zeitz on Friday unveiled the world's largest museum for contemporary African art in South Africa.
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), located on Cape Town's famous entertainment and shopping mile V&A Waterfront, will open its doors to the public on September 22, with the organizers expecting 24,000 visitors on the first weekend alone.

Zeitz, the former boss of sports brand Puma, donated thousands of artworks from his private collection to the museum, while the owners of the V&A Waterfront financed the conversion of the building, a former grain silo, with 38 million dollars.
The historic silo, made up of 42 massive, concrete tubes, was converted by star-architect Heatherwick, who became known for designing the hydraulic Rolling Bridge in London.
The Zeitz MOCAA will show art from the 21st century in 80 galleries, over nine floors.
Its centre piece is a 27-metre-high atrium, cut in the shape of one of the corn kernels that used to be stored in the silo.
"Contemporary art has become a mode of urban development," Heatherwick said. "We wanted to make the inside as memorable as the outside."
The museum also includes a rooftop restaurant and sculpture garden, bookshop, educational facilities and a hotel.
The opening exhibition includes works by globally celebrated South African artist William Kentridge as well as young talents, including Kudzarai Chiurai from Zimbabwe, El Loko from Togo and Nandipha Mntambo from Swaziland.
"The museum is returning or securing seminal works from the African continent and ensuring they remain on the African continent," said Zeitz MOCAA head curator Mark Coetzee.
"We aim to empower the voice and the narrative out of Africa and also the audience," Coetzee added.
South African artist Mary Sibande described the opening of the museum as an "exciting time to be a practising artist in Africa."
"It's a place where we can exhibit our works ... and our dreams. It will outlive us," Sibande, whose work was shown at the 2010 Venice Biennale, added.
Artist Michele Mathison, who lives in Zimbabwe and South Africa, said the museum, although based in Cape Town, will have a positive impact for artists across the continent.
"The reach and influence the museum is going to have will be tremendous throughout the region," Mathison said.
Among the patrons of the Zeitz MOCAA are former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan and actor Robert Redford.

Sunday, September 17th 2017
Kristin Palitza

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