ASPIRE Pick of the Week: The Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa

The impending arrival of Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) has been causing quite a stir. Set to hold its grand public opening from 22 to 25 September 2017 – during which members of the public can enter for free – the museum is to Cape Town what the Tate Modern is to London, and MoMA to New York.

The Museum’s Honeycomb Interiors

Located at the V&A Waterfront in the former grain silos, the massive nine-storey space has undergone a state-of-the-art overhaul, courtesy of esteemed British industrial designer Thomas Heatherwick, and will house 6000 square metres of exhibition space across seven levels, as well as a restaurant area in the Museum Café, and a charming Sculpture Garden.

The Museum
The Museum Restaurant
Sculpture Hanging from the Rooftop above the Atrium

The Sculpture Garden

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first century art from Africa and its Diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all. Over one hundred galleries, spread over nine floors, are dedicated to a large cutting edge permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice, Photography, the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute.

The brief given to Heatherwick Studio was to reimagine the Grain Silo Complex at the V&A Waterfront with an architectural intervention inspired by its own historic character. The project called for a solution that would be unique to Africa and create the highest possible quality of exhibition space for the work displayed inside. The V&A Waterfront’s challenge to repurpose what was once the tallest building on the Cape Town skyline, caught the imagination of internationally acclaimed designer Thomas Heatherwick and his innovative team of architects. This was a chance to do more than just appropriate a former industrial building to display art, but to imagine a new kind of museum in an African context.

The establishment of the museum came about through a confluence of factors. The V&A Waterfront recognised the significance of its Grain Silo complex as an historic landmark and for years debated possible uses. An art museum was eventually decided upon but a collection was needed. The desire was to house something of public civic significance, and something open to the public. It was through Ravi Naidoo that Thomas Heatherwick was introduced to the Grain Silo complex in 2006, and again in 2011. At the same time, Jochen Zeitz was working with curator Mark Coetzee to build a world class collection of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora with the vision to create the first major museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora on the Africa Continent. The meeting of these two visions resulted in the creation of the not-for-profit public institution since named Zeitz MOCAA.

The Aleit Group, renowned for its spectacular, high-end events and weddings for the past 20 years, has been appointed by Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) as the exclusive event operator throughout the museum. This includes the management of the multifunctional event space on floor six and the Atrium, as well as all events hosted within the museum.

For anyone looking to host a remarkable event, the museum space is unlike anything on the continent. In fact, it is arguably unlike anything in the world.

Available for private functions, after hours, the Atrium is an exceptional space for arrival drinks and canapés. The Atrium is the heart of the museum, connecting what were once two separate buildings, the Elevator and the Grain silos. Cathedral-like, it rises 33m high, carved out of the original silo bins, and is an architectural wonder.

The Venue on floor six, a multifunctional event space, looks out onto the museum’s rooftop sculpture garden. It truly is a breathtaking event venue which can accommodate up to 200 guests with a 270-degree view of Cape Town, and possibly the best view of Table Mountain in the city.

Source: Zeitz MOCAA

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