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Change the world


'The Future of Museums: Recover and Imagine', is the theme of this year's International Museum Day. 

It is inspired by the changes the world has experienced in the last year and urges people to reimagine the museums of the future, to respond to the issues we face in the present, says Ryan Pillay, Head of Arts, Culture and Heritage at Nelson Mandela University.

The University will be celebrating this event by highlighting previous exhibition(s) in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum.

In addition, a digital virtual tour of the Nelson Mandela University Educational Exhibition titled “Point of Human Origin │A Palaeoscience Exhibition” is included. 

The event is a yearly celebration of the role of museums in our society and aims to engage the public with interesting and creative activities.  It also provides a platform to raise awareness of any topics or issues that the museums feel are important, says Ryan. 

The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum will reflect how we can provide hope and inspiration to communities during the current COVID 19 pandemic, says Emma O’Brien from the Museum.  

The exhibition “Life in the time of COVID” features poems and artworks by youth from around the city and has an interactive craft table where members of the public can make messages of hope to add to our wishing tree.

Secondly, an exhibition titled “Making Meaning” reflects, through selected works from the collection, on how art can be a source of hope and resilience.  For more information visit the Museum’s webpage

Why it is important 

Museums are there to preserve history.  Walking through a museum is like going back in time, experiencing things as they were thousands of years ago and learning about different races and cultures.  

They are places where cultures exchange - an exchange that has a positive impact on contemporary society.  Witnessing the rich histories of different nations, races and religions helps improve understanding and cooperation between cultures.  These curated stories and artefacts expand our awareness, helping us to be more welcoming to other people. 

Preserving and understanding history is vital if we are to progress as the kind of compassionate and understanding society that we all hope for.  It is important to recognise the important role that museums play in this, whilst also reflecting on how they can improve in what they do.

More about Point of Human Origin - A Palaeoscience Exhibition

Nelson Mandela University’s Archives, Exhibition and Heritage Centre brings ancient man to life in this first ever palaeoscience exhibition for the University. 

It showcases, in a contemporary and engaging way, the ground-breaking findings of researchers from 20 universities worldwide (co-led by Nelson Mandela University), who have been recreating the “ancient landscape” (palaeoscape) through their findings at the Pinnacle Point caves near Mossel Bay.

Research indicates that modern human beings evolved from a small group of Homo sapiens who survived an Ice Age some 200,000 years ago, living along this temperate Southern Cape coast.

They could very likely be the ancestors of everyone alive today. Mandela University A1-rated Botany Professor, Richard Cowling, a world-leading ecologist and conservation scientist, is the co-principal investigator in the African Coast Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, Paleoecology, and Paleoanthrolopology project (SACP4) project, which is led by Professor Curtis Marean, a palaeoanthropologist from Arizona State University and a Mandela University Honorary Professor. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation (United States).

The exhibition is indicative of an academic environment that encourages, supports and rewards a vibrant research, scholarship and innovation culture.  It is hoped that this exhibition, apart from stimulating public interest in the dawn of their own species, will also pique the interest of potential students, and further grow Mandela University’s reputation for pioneering research.

The project has already piqued global interest, with the publication of several articles in the world’s leading science journals, among them Science, Nature and Scientific American.

View the Palaeoscience Exhibition

The University’s virtual exhibition as well as a live exhibition curated by the Art Museum, will take place at the Art Museum, in Park Drive, from today (20 May) until Friday, 28 May.



Contact information
Mr Ryan Pillay
Deputy Director: Arts, Culture and Heritage
Tel: 041 504 2508