Maropeng is the official Visitor Centre of the Cradle of Humankind and consists of an exhibition centre and a small museum of fossils. It is housed in the Tumulus building that is so unique that there is no other building one could compare it to. The design of the building is exceptional and very contemporary with a focus on use of space. It offers the visitor an interactive experience that makes it difficult to use the term 'museum' when speaking of Maropeng.
The word Maropeng is a Setswana word meaning, “returning to the place of origin” (Setswana being the main language spoken in this area.)
The whole Maropeng experience can be appreciated at one level within one hour, but for the more interested and curious visitor who wants to see it all, it can take up to 7 hours. It may be advantageous to request a tour guide that are offered at no extra cost over weekends, but these enquiries should be made when tickets are bought.
The building was built with a frontal view imitating a gigantic burial mound and the back as an ultra-modern edifice to represent the future. Strict environmental guidelines were followed to integrate the building into the surrounding land. The building has been positioned in a dugout as it were, to emulate the excavation of fossils. It houses an amphitheatre covered in grass that accommodates 10 000 people.
The main entrance area opens up into a market place with shops and restaurants and rest areas where visitors can relax. This “marketplace” leads into a hotel and a learner centre that are almost not visible due to the innovative way that they have been designed, and also to the main exhibition area.
On the top of the building are concrete columns with inscriptions to indicate fossils that sometimes stick out of the ground. As the visitor comes out of the last part of the exhibition he is met by 180o awe inspiring view of the magnificent Savannah.
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