First Contemporary African Art Museum Opens

Zeitz Mocaa

Zeitz MOCAA : it could sound like a yell but it isn’t. Behind this strange name hides the new art jewel of Cape Town and of Africa as a whole. Since the end of September, the continent has inaugurated the very first museum dedicated to contemporary African art.

That’s the MOCAA acronym sorted. For Zeitz, it is simply the name of the main patron of the museum, German collector Jochen Zeitz. Former CEO of Puma, his love for African art led him to start the Zeitz collection. He has been collecting ever since. In 2013, over 80 works exhibited at the Venice Biennale joined the collection, including Edson Chagas’ prized installation for the Angolan Pavilion. The collection is now the heart of the museum, and comprises artists such as Rashid Johnson, Marlene Dumas, Julie Mehretu, Glenn Ligon, Chris Ofili to name some of the most famous ones.

Zeitz MOCAA is located on the Victoria & Alfred waterfront (and developed in partnership with it). The grain silos transformed to welcome the institution have been spectacularly converted by British architect Thomas Heatherwick. The result is visually stunning and is itself a piece of art worth the visit.

The mission of the Zeitz MOCAA is large. As per the museum statement, it “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.” Desmond Tutu, anti-Apartheid icon and former Archbischop of Cape Town declared at the opening ceremony : “It’s just so fantastic. This beautiful, beautiful art museum. (…) “You warm the cockles of my heart — and I don’t know what cockles are. (…)Thank you all of you who have made this creation possible”.

With an exhibition space containing 100 galleries, there is and will be much to see. For more informations and virtually visit the Zeitz MOCAA, please click here.

Opening of the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town. View of the museum lobby, sculpture by Nicholas Hlobo. Photo : Rodger BOSCH / AFP.