The National Arts Festival held every winter in Grahamstown is the largest event of its kind in the country. Thousands of people converge on the town to experience the best that South Africa has to offer in the performing arts.
There many private game reserves within an hours drive of Grahamstown that offer different packages for day visitors. Conference delegates can spend some time discovering Africa’s Big Five (Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffalo) as well as enjoying the unique animal and plant biodiversity of the Eastern Cape. Some of these private game reserves are Shamwari, Kariega, Amakhala, Lalibela, Kwantu, Kwandwe and Bushman Sands.
Another option is the Addo Elephant National Park, which is just over an hours drive away. This unique national park, which is in the midst of a grand expansion program and can offer guests the unique opportunity of experiencing the Big Seven (including Whales and Great White Sharks) and five of South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones.
The Albany Museum Complex comprises five museums and is the second oldest museum in the country. The Museum Complex has an Education Department which provides resources and educational programmes in cultural studies, history and the natural sciences. A Mobile Museum service offers portable exhibits, resource packs and objects for curriculum-based studies.
The Cory Library at Rhodes University collects material of all kinds to support research into the history of Southern African and related fields in the social sciences. The aim has been to build up a strong subject collection where format and medium are secondary to the subject needs of the researcher in Southern African history and a wide range of cognate fields.
The Eastern Star gallery takes its name from a newspaper established in Grahamstown in 1871. The restored 120 year-old Wharfdale printing press is a sister model to the one on which the Eastern Star was produced between 1871 and 1887. The Museum features printing machinery and other historical items related to printing, including John Fairbairn’s editorial desk.
The History Museum formerly focused on the contribution of the 1820 British Settlers and their descendants to the history of Southern Africa, but it now encompasses all the peoples who live – or have lived – in the Eastern Cape. Its collections cover agricultural equipment, domestic furniture, costume and textiles, ceramics, glass, silver, toys and dolls, militaria, medals, coins, documents and genealogical information relating to the British Settlers.
The International Library of African Music (ILAM), situated on the Rhodes University campus, is a research, publishing and teaching centre for African traditional music. Although not strictly a museum, it has a collection of more than two hundred traditional African musical instruments, many in playing order. These are regularly used for teaching. ILAM also has a variety or recordings of traditional African music, books and catalogues.
The Museum’s mission is to promote the reading and appreciation of all forms of creative South African literature written in English. For this purpose it collects and conserves material evidence of this literature, publicises and popularises it, and makes it accessible to all sections of the reading public, locally and abroad.
The Natural Science Museum is the oldest component of the Albany Museum Complex with a theme covering natural science and the natural history of the Eastern Cape. Earth sciences, archaeology, insects, birds, mammals, and plants are included. Notable items in the collection include a portion of the Gibeon meteorite, a working Foucault pendulum and a reconstruction of the first dinosaur discovered in South Africa, stegosaur paranthodon africanus.
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