Workers Museum in Newtown, Johannesburg, Gauteng
This important Museum, the Workers Museum, is one of the last surviving Municipal Compounds in Johannesburg. It was built between 1910 and 1913 for approximately 300 black male migrant workers who first worked for the Sanitary Department and then at the nearby Power Station.
The building was declared a national monument in 1996 and an important part of the working-class heritage. The Workers Museum was used as a Compound until the 1970’s and today tells the story of these black migrant workers who left their families and faced slave-like conditions in order to have jobs. Workers dormitories contained double-storey concrete or wooden bunks where workers slept side by side, nine workers per level, with no mattresses. There was no privacy and the Compound Manager exercised complete control over their lives.
Sadly, these workers were very seldom acknowledged for the immense contribution they made to the growth of Johannesburg. This Museum is an eye opener and a must-see and on a positive note, it shows the vibrancy and creative resilience of the migrant worker’s culture.
Visit Museum Africa and take a tour of Newtown all in one day!
Things to see and do
- Migrant Workers Living Conditions Exhibit
- Workers Library & Resource Centre
- Workers Dormitories
- Workers Ablutions & Shower Room
- Punishment Room & Rules Display
- White Managers Cottages
- Guided Tours (pre-booking required)
Prices are subject to change, please call them to confirm.
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