Stagecoach at the Wagon Museum in Bloemfontein.

For the past two decades, South African’s have been spending Heritage day like a normal holiday, presenting a lost opportunity for us to celebrate our diverse and rich heritage. 

With a renewed focus on nation-building and social cohesion, South Africans are being encouraged to celebrate their heritage. Heritage institutions like the National Museum, Bloemfontein have pulled out all the stops to bring communities together to celebrate our cultural heritage, diversity of beliefs and different traditions.

Pitsa di a bela Heritage Event: Oliewenhuis Art Museum

The event name translates to ‘the pot is boiling’ and is a family-friendly heritage event hosted by Oliewenhuis Art Museum that celebrates our rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage.

Oliewenhuis is a satellite museum of the National Museum in Bloemfontein. The key attraction will be the Standard Bank Trail Run which will take place on the beautiful hiking trail of Oliewenhuis. 

A 1km Kiddie run is also offered for the little ones. A craft and heritage market will include stalls filled with a range of interesting goodies including beautiful locally carved wooden sculptures, high quality handcrafted baby clothes, African drums and woven horse-hair jewellery.

The Basotho Cultural Village will be displaying traditional Basotho crafts and Project Mantis, representing the Khwe Community in Platfontein will share aspects of their culture with visitors.
Kids can also explore dinosaur and other artefacts from the Nation Museum’s collection which will be on display at Oliewenhuis on the day.

Tsongo doll.

Batho Centenary Celebrations: Bloemfontein’s oldest township

In 2018 Bloemfontein’s oldest existing township or ‘location’, as it had been called in the past, is hundred years old. Batho was established in 1918 by the Municipality of Bloemfontein as a new ‘model location’ for Bloemfontein’s black residents. This followed a decision to demolish the old Waaihoek location and move all Waaihoek’s residents to Batho. 

During the past nine years the National Museum developed a special relationship with Batho’s residents through the Museum’s Batho Community History Project. The objective of this project is to collect, preserve and disseminate information on Batho’s history by means of academic research as well as the conducting of oral history interviews with Batho’s residents.

One of the project’s focus areas is the gardens and gardening culture of Batho’s residents as an important aspect of the township’s living heritage. The overall theme for the centenary event will focus on Batho’s gardens and gardening culture as living heritage. In 2013 a permanent exhibition on Batho was opened in the National Museum.

Freshford House, First Raadsaal and Wagon Museum

The Raadsaal in Bloemfontein.

No heritage road trip to Bloemfontein will be complete without visiting the Freshford House Museum, the First Raadsaal and Wagon Museum.

Freshford House Museum is one of the few houses of the upper middle class of the Edwardian Period that still exists in Bloemfontein.

It was completed in 1897, during a transition between the Late Victorian and Edwardian periods. The house, with its asymmetrical facade, unplastered red
brick walls, bay windows, veranda with carved wood and corrugated iron roof with cast-iron finishes, is a typical example of a residence during this period in Bloemfontein. A Late Victorian Period garden was laid out on the site to complement the house.

The First Raadsaal is the oldest remaining building in Bloemfontein. 

The history of the establishment of the Free State is depicted here. The Wagon Museum is situated on the same premises as the First Raadsaal Museum. It houses a collection of historical wagons and carriages, such as a spring wagon, Voortrekker ox wagon, transport wagon, stagecoach, mule wagon, spider and Cape cart.