Three schools opened their museums to the public last week, sharing their heritage, stories and collections in celebration of International Museum Day, held every year on or around May 18.
Rondebosch Boys’ High, Bishops and SACS, the Education Museum, the Forum for School Museums and Archives and Oude Wijnberg Museum all took part, under the theme, Museums as Cultural Hubs – the Future of Tradition.
Diocesan College (Bishops) was established in 1849. Curator Paul Murray said the museum initially came from collections given to the school which ended up in various places such as the library and the natural history room. Then it was decided to create a museum in 1987 which was subsequently expanded in the 1990s. The current museum, known as the Diocesan College Museum, was built in 2015.
Mr Murray said the collections in the museum consist of the school’s history but exhibitions were subject to change in line with the school’s ever-changing social position of inclusivity and representing its past and present situation.
He is currently working on a few interesting themes for exhibiting, which includes an action picture of one of Bishops’ greatest athletes, Herschelle Gibbs breaking the under-19 100m sprint in 1991. The picture was captured by Mr Murray himself. Other works include past pupil Mark Shuttleworth – the first African to go into space and other significant moments such as the school’s Xhosa department of 1975. “The museum helps to contextualise the school’s history to make it representative of and accessible for all,” he said.
Anyone wanting to visit the museum weekdays between 9am to 1pm, can contact Mr Murray at 083 515 9526.
SACS archivist Simon Perkin said the school had so much history, being the oldest school in South Africa – founded in September 1829.
He said the history society felt this history and the artefacts had to be shared and put on display. Part of this rich history, Mr Perkin said, was when the school led the Open Schools’ Movement in the 1980s and early 1990s – where the first three black pupils were accepted at the school in 1991.
Grade 11 pupil, Thomas Russel, from the history society, was involved in updating the archives. He said the items had all been in the school’s store rooms but had not been organised. “We played around with some themes but decided to divide the displays by headmasters and what happened during their tenure, under four sections – cultural, academic, sport and other,” he said.
Thomas said SACS was a traditional school and felt it was important to preserve its history. “This is very important for the school’s identity and the life of the school as it shaped the past and our future,” he said.
To visit the SACS museum contact the school on 021 689 4164.
André Ross, manager of the Old Boys Union at Rondebosch Boys’ High, said the heritage centre was still fairly new as it was only built in 2015 but was a multi-functional building used by the school for various activities and events. He said it was a work in progress with displays and artefacts added, as the money came in. “The area is a ‘living’ thing with displays and memorabilia all around the centre.”
Mr Ross said the sports displays include that of the matric class of 1997’s Gcobani Bobo and Dallen Stanford who went on to be famous rugby players, a bat used by cricket star Gary Kirsten, a copy of every school magazine which dates back to 1904 and old science equipment.
He said there was also various displays throughout the school, including a display in the foyer of the hall with biographies of every Old Boy who died in World War 1 and 2.
“Another unique display is our ties. We decided not to put it in a glass cabinet but to have it open for the pupils to see and touch,” he said.