Iziko Social History Centre

Heritage is crucial to any society that seeks to define its identity in recognition of the multiplicity of the diverse cultures and traditions that are representative of its people.

Prof H.C. (Jatti) Bredekamp

It took 3 years for the National Mutual Building to be renovated and presented as a world class centre on 18 September 2010 with its new name, Iziko Social History Centre. It is more than a museum; it is a central archive facility for the housing of the 250 000 reserve social history and historical artefacts and literature that span the whole of Southern Africa. 

Iziko Social History Centre is a world class museum facility celebrating South Africa's unique cultural diversity through the collection of historical artefacts, books and other media and housing them in one central location. With all the collections at hand the centre has undertaken a research programme covering 7 fields of study.

Research Programmes

  • Pre-colonial archaeology
  • Colonial archaeology
  • Colonialism and resistance
  • Domestic and family life
  • Economy, trade and technology
  • Anthropology
  • Contemporary history


  • Artefacts from the colonial period of the Cape
  • Indigenous cultural material from Southern Africa
  • Maritime and historical archaeology
  • Reserve collections and archived artefacts associated with Social History
  • World ceramics, furniture, coins and textiles

Social Awareness

The Social Hsitory Collections Demparntent has taken upon itself the task of instilling public awareness of the history and cultural heritage of South Africa including the recent history. This will be achieved with the massive collection of artefacts and media at its disposal as well as international collections it has acquired. A team of dedicated people will use interactive programmes to engage the public as well as international visitors.

Iziko Social History Library

The centre also houses the comprehensive Social History Library that is open to the public. Its focus is the people and history of Southern Africa but more so Cape Town and the Western Cape. The Library holds a vast range books and periodicals from history to the arts.


  • 1904 – The National Mutual Building was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Francis Masey
  • 1989 - The South African Government bought the building to house collections of the South African Cultural History Museum
  • 2007 to 2010 - The building was renovated and refurbished to accommodate the Iziko Social Hsitory Centre and Library
  • 18 September 2010 - the launch of the new Iziko Social History Centre took place


  • Monday to Friday, 10h00 - 17h00
  • Closed : Weekends, Christmas and Worker’s Day
  • Admission

    Please refer to their website

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