The Colesberg-Kemper Museum developed from a collection of curiosities which had been presented in 1924 by Mr G.L.E. Kemper. It has grown into a fascinating store house of local history and contemporary information.
The building that houses the Colesberg-Kemper collection is a typical example of early Karoo architecture. Built as the Colesberg Bank in 1861, it became one of the first branches of the ‘Standard Bank of South Africa’ to be established in this country in 1863 and the Municipal Offices in 1940 when the present Standard Bank was built. In 1975, when the municipality moved into the new Civic Centre, it was decided to hand the old building to the Historical Society and the Colesberg-Kemper Museum came into being.
The artefacts displayed are humble items that have little intrinsic value, but are just as important as a rare specimen to a natural history museum as a valuable painting to an art gallery. Their importance being that they record and depict the everyday lives of our great grandparents, our grandparents, our parents and even our own youth, successfully filling the gap that exists between local history and text-book history. There is something for everyone in the museum - ranging from fossils deposited ages ago, when South Africa’s first terrestrial reptiles roamed the Karoo, a contemporary Karoo Nomad photographic exhibition assembled by Professor Michael de Jongh and his college Riana Steyn from the Department of Anthropology UNISA, to personal stories from Coleberg relating to the struggle for freedom for all in South Africa.
Some of the more interesting objects and documents in the museum collection were picked up by Mr Kemper during the Anglo-Boer War period, when fierce battles waged around the town and many lives were lost, as the names inscribed on the graves and memorials in the Military Cemetery of the town testify.
New to the museum is the ‘Struggle Room’ highlighting some of the experiences of local people involved in the struggle for a free South Africa.
The Colesberg-Kemper Museum is a user-friendly museum, where items are not just measured, catalogued and put away - but are there to be looked at, talked about and stories told, it is a place where the elderly come to share their memories, new comers and tourists seek information, and children begin to appreciate and enjoy the past.
Should you arrive after hours, Lungile will be happy to open the museum for you.
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