District Six Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

District Six Museum

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

The District Six Museum is dedicated to the history of District Six, an area destroyed during the Apartheid.

Peta Stamper

31 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About District Six Museum

The District Six Museum in Cape Town, South Africa is a museum which serves as a memorial to and celebration of District Six, immersing visitors in what was a thriving community destroyed during the Apartheid.

Today, the District Six Museum offers guided tours of District Six (often with ex-residents) but note these must be booked in advance.

Other exhibitions are located at the District Six Museum Homecoming Centre; specifically sports exhibitions on local and international football, focusing on apartheid and its effects on the sport and the lives of the people that played it.

District Six Museum history

The District Six Foundation was established in 1989 and shortly after joined by the museum in 1994. Together, the institutions formed a memorial to the forced movement of around 60,000 inhabitants of varying backgrounds during South Africa’s Apartheid in the 1960s. The museum itself had been an old Methodist church.

The area of District Six was originally populated by freed enslaved people after abolition in 1833, and made up a tenth of Cape Town’s population. The neighbourhood was a community of former slaves, artisans, merchants as well as immigrants and Malay people brought by the Dutch East India Company.

As part of the apartheid movement, however, Cape Town declared the district a ‘whites only’ area in 1966, and demolition began soon afterwards. By 1982, over 60,000 people had been forcibly relocated to the bleak Cape Flats area, around 25 kilometres away.

District Six Museum today

Today, you can walk the museum floor covered by a large map of the district and accompanied by hand-written notes from former inhabitants about where they used to live. The museum’s collections also features old traffic signs, exhibits that explain historical events and explore the lives of families living in the area that was demolished.

Additionally, the District Six Museum offers programmes to help develop the district: the museum is dedicated to constructing new housing, environmental planning as well as supporting cultural activities such as music and literature.

Getting to the District Six Museum

If using public transport around Cape Town, then buses 103, 104 and 111 all stop at Lower Buitenkant just a minute’s walk from the District Six Museum. The 102 and 113 buses stop along Darling Street nearby.

For those driving, the museum is located near the waterfront just off the motorways 1 and 2 at exits 3 and 2.

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