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In celebration of library week 2021, the KwaZulu-Natal Museum hosted a reading session, as well as donated books to local schools from the Pietermaritzburg area.
This was in support of a joint venture between the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture and the Library and Information Association of South Africa, which aims to raise awareness on the role of libraries within society. The reading session was used to highlight the importance of reading literacy, the relationship between books and libraries as well as the services libraries offer and how they help to shape and mold the minds of our future generations.
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"Holding history in her hands"


Today the Maritzburg Sun published an article about Chiara Singh, one of the interns in the Department of Human Sciences, KwaZulu-Natal Museum. Chiara has been digitizing the first 100 objects listed in the accession register on behalf of the Five Hundred Year Archive (University of Cape Town). Here she is taking photographs of a "tobacco jar" (object no. 00170), an unusual kind of wooden container, produced during the 19th century in what was then Natal, with intricately carved surface patterns and tripod feet. Check the full article out here (scroll to page 5).

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The Department of Human Sciences has seen a significant influx of volunteers, interns, and supervised students for the 2021 year. The additional personnel doubles the current capacity of the department for undertaking research and collections projects. The KwaZulu-Natal Museum has long had an active volunteer as well as an internship programme across many different departments, depending on donated funds. Internships have, in the past, been funded by the National Research Foundation, the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture as well as other entities. Staff in the Human Sciences Department are also involved in the co-supervision of postgraduate students at multiple universities across the country and some students spend time at the museum getting practical experience of the museum world or they conduct their research on material from the collections. For 2021, the team in Human Sciences comprises the following members:


Mudzunga Munzhedzi is Collections Technician responsible for the management of collections in all four catalogues—anthropology, archaeology, history and special. This includes oversight of environmental monitoring, loans, databasing, accessioning, cataloguing and internal movement of items. Mudzunga joined the museum in 2013 and he is currently working on his Master’s degree at Wits University. His research for this degree is on the KwaZulu-Natal Museum’s archaeological archive contributed by amateur archaeologist, Michael A. Moon. He sits on the Advisory Committee of the Howick Umngeni Museum and is also on the Board of Trustees of the Museums Pension Fund. He has a competency qualification in firearms and is allowed to handle the museum’s collection of weapons.


Dr Ghilraen Laue is Curator responsible for Special Collections and is a rock art researcher, focusing on issues of regionality and the rock art of the southern Eastern Cape province. Ghilraen joined the museum in 2016 and she co-edits Southern African Humanities, is actively engaged in publishing projects on rock art material and co-supervises students from Pretoria University. She is a research associate of the Rock Art Research Institute at Wits University. She is a licensed firearms handler and is qualified to work with the museum’s historical firearms collection, which includes black-powder specimens.

 DTnew Dimakatso Tlhoaele is Research Technician responsible for aspects of the management of collections. She oversees the internal and external loans for collections and she also manages visiting researchers. She co-ordinates the museum’s tea-time talks and is actively involved in getting community-driven projects visibility within the museum. She is completing her Master’s degree at UNISA on material analysis of Iron Age ceramics from Mgoduyanuka, KwaZulu-Natal. She sits on the committee of the KZN Branch of the South African Museums Association.
 GWnew Dr Gavin Whitelaw is Chief Curator responsible for Archaeological Collections. His research focuses on the Iron Age communities of southern Africa, with a special emphasis on KwaZulu-Natal. Gavin joined the museum in 1986 and has long been the editor of the prestigious journal, Southern African Humanities. He also drives the department’s Occasional Publication Series, which publishes books through the museum’s imprimatur. He co-supervises post-graduate students at Wits and UNISA. He is a former president of the South African Archaeology Society and was a presenter on the SABC television series, Shoreline.
 PMnew Phumulani Madonda is Technical Assistant responsible for a wide range of technical and administrative issues in the Department of Human Sciences. He is responsible for daily environmental logging of the collections rooms, the operation of the Business Process Management System and the keeping of financial and administration records, and for ensuring regular backups of the collections databases. He is currently studying his undergraduate degree at UNISA, where Archaeology is one of his major subjects. He obtained a higher certificate in Archives and Record Management from UNISA in 2016.
 MLnew Melissa Lindsay is a Volunteer responsible for assisting Dr Laue with work on the Special Collections and is a research assistant on the Vinnicombe Project. She joined the team in early 2021. She is an Honours student in Archaeology at Pretoria University, working on the rock art of Limpopo Province. She has excavation experience in the Iron Age and Later Stone Age. Her research interests include education in archaeology and museum exhibitions.
 CSnew Chiara Singh is a Project Assistant working on the digitisation of part of the Anthropology Collections for the Archive and Public Culture Initiative at Cape Town University. She joined the team in 2020 as an intern on the Presidential Stimulus Programme and she worked on the film archive within the Human Sciences department.  She completed her Honours degree in Archaeology at Wits in 2014 before completing her Masters at Pretoria University, also in Archaeology, in 2019.
 JWnew Dr Justine Wintjes is Curator responsible for Anthropological Collections. Her research ranges across object biographies, the history of research, and the refitting of dismantled heritage sites. Justine joined the museum in 2019 and she co-edits Southern African Humanities and oversees several collaborative projects, including Metsemegologolo under the African Digital Humanities programme (Wits), an object biography programme with the Centre for Visual Arts, (UKZN), and digital curations with the Archive and Public Culture initiative (UCT). She co-supervises post-graduate students at Wits University. She is a research associate of the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) and a member of the council of South African Visual Arts Historians.
 MHnew Dr Michelle House is a Project Researcher working on the digitisation of part of the Archaeology Collections for the Archive and Public Culture Initiative at Cape Town University. She joined the team in 2020 after completing her PhD in 2019 at the University of Cape Town. She is trained in material cultural analysis of Iron Age objects and in stable light isotope mass spectrometry and radiogenic isotope analyses. She was awarded a Postdoctoral Writing Grant through the British Institute in Eastern Africa in 2020 and is currently funded by the African Humanities Program to publish papers out of her PhD. Her research interests include using stable and radiogenic isotopes in animal tissues to better-understand procurement of local resources, environmental change and herd management strategies employed by prehistoric farmers in southern Africa.
 CTnew Dr Carolyn Thorp is the retired former Head of the Department of Human Sciences. Her research career includes Archaeozoology, Stone Age and Iron Age research in southern and eastern Africa, but in recent years she has turned her attention to exploring the worldviews of nineteenth century |Xam and contemporary Khoisan peoples to interpret rock art images. Carolyn spent many years with National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe culminating in her appointment as Chief Curator of Human Sciences (Archaeology). She worked with the British Institute in Eastern Africa as coordinator of their project on 'Landscape and Environmental Change in Semi-Arid Landscapes of East & Southern Africa' from 2002 to 2005. She joined the museum in 2009 and oversaw the Department of Human Sciences until her retirement in December 2017. She remains active in research and maintains links to the KwaZulu-Natal Museum.
 EAnew Emeline Alvarez is currently completing her Masters in Heritage Professions at the Savoie Mont Blanc University in France. She obtained her BA in history and archaeology at the Grenoble Alpes University in 2017. In 2020, she took a course with Mélanie Duval, a Geography researcher who has worked in South Africa, on the management of South African Heritage, especially rock art sites in the Drakensberg. Emeline will join the team in Human Sciences in October this year as a visiting international researcher. She will work on the cataloguing and databasing of the Human Sciences collections, and she will take part in field excursions to heritage and rock art sites. She works as a volunteer each year at the excavation of the prehistoric site of Balutie, in France.
 NMnew Nolwazi Msomi is a volunteer working on the Anthropology Collections. She joined the team in Human Sciences in 2020. She has a BA, majoring in History and Anthropology, from the University of Zululand. She also has a credit course in Museum Practices from the District of Columbia Community College, Washington DC. She wants to do an Honours in History soon.
 BFnew Barbara Freemantle is a volunteer working on a wide range of curatorial matters. She completed an MA degree in Art History from the University of the Witwatersrand, an Honours in Anthropology from the University of South Africa, a Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Sciences from the University of Pretoria, a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing from IMM and a Ceramics conservation course focusing on the restoration of low-fired ceramics. After serving as Curator of the Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg for 25 years, Freemantle now continues to study, write and learn the art of pottery.
 SMnew Silindile Mthethwa is a volunteer working on the anthropology collections. She worked as an intern in the Education Department at the museum as part of the Presidential Stimulus Programme in 2020/2021. She is currently studying for her Master’s degree in the Anthropology Department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, working on perceptions of sexually transmitted diseases in a Zulu community. She will read for her PhD from 2022 onwards.
GBnew Dr Geoff Blundell is Principal Curator and Head of Department. His research focuses on Khoisan resistance to colonialism and the use of rock art as a historical resource. Geoff joined the museum in 2018 and is responsible for overseeing the daily operation of the department and for its strategic development. This includes oversight on budgeting and finance management, HR, marketing, research, collections management, public outreach and any other aspect of the department’s functioning. He co-supervises post-graduate students at Wits University and he is a research associate of the Palaeo-Research Institute, University of Johannesburg.




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Opening Times

Monday to Friday - 9:00 to 15:30 
Saturdays - Closed 
Sundays - Closed


Adults (over 17 years) : R10.00

Children (4-17 years) : R 2.50 

School Learners on tour : R 1.50 per child

Pensioners & toddlers : FREE