Rondebosch museum celebrates children

At the Cape Town Museum of Childhood’s open day, from left, are head of advocacy and social justice at the Centre for Early Childhood Development Yusrah Ehrenreich, museum outreach manager Chanel Fredricks and museum manager Navarne Weeder.

A new museum in Rondebosch celebrates childhood and looks back at some of the toys children have played with over the past century.

The Cape Town Museum of Childhood opened on Friday October 1. It is part of the Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD), a Claremont non-profit organisation that has fought for children’s rights for the past 27 years. The museum is funded by the National Lotteries Commission.

Professor Eric Atmore, the centre’s director, says the museum is a place where children are put first and where the public can see the value of childhood.

“A big part of childhood is that the rights and children are observed and children, are taught that in one exhibit at the museum,” he said..

Chanel Fredericks, the museum’s outreach manager, said it had been filled with energy since its opening as children had visited with their families.

“The museum explores all the senses,” she said. “There are exhibits that explore sight, things to hear, things to touch, things to taste and smell.”

Interactive rooms at the museum include a children’s rights room with newspaper clippings describing cases where those rights have been trampled. “Children’s rights have been violated, and we share what their rights are,” said museum manager Navarne Weeder.

The Red Cross room shows how the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital has helped children over the years. And RX Radio, the hospital’s radio station, is livestreamed from the room.

A key part of the museum, said Mr Weeder, was that it was a safe place for children to be children – something that often was not possible in today’s society.

In the “100 years of toys” room, parents can reminisce about the toys they used to play with. There is also an activity room, a story room and a screening room for videos. Visitors can also enjoy free beverages and ice-creams.

The museum has been five years in the making. Ms Fredericks said a lot of that time had been spent on developing the buildings. “We had various curators coming in, and even just to curate one room took a lot of time.”

Sameera Jainoodien, from Rylands, who was at the opening day with her son, Sa’ad, said: “It was absolutely amazing what the museum had to offer. I enjoyed hearing about the history, especially about the Red Cross as my son was a patient of the hospital.”

Covid-19 protocols apply at the museum and all visitors are screened, have their temperature checked and are given hand-sanitiser. Entry to the museum is free.

The CTMC is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from 10am until 4pm. Visit museumofchildhood.org.za or call 021 683 2420 for more information.

Sa’ad Jainoodien, 4, on the slide at the Cape Town Museum of Childhood.
The “100 years of toys” room.