Our second week in Cape Town was full of adventure. We rode along on our first mobile museum trip, which was exciting. The mobile museum gives children who may not have access to Iziko museums, the opportunity to interact with the museum’s content. I loved watching the children’s reactions to the different taxidermy animals that we revealed to them. Their amazement and excitement with every object that was brought out, makes me look forward to our upcoming mobile museum trips.
We also visited parliament with another group of Iziko interns and learned more about how the government of South Africa functions. That same day, after the tour, we visited a fabric shop with Janine, one of our supervisors. Janine also took us to visit The Castle, another Iziko Museum site.
Outside of work we ate lots of pizza, chocolate croissants and coconut butter cookies. We also did a little bit of shopping at the Cape Walk mall, to prepare for Liz’s upcoming birthday.
The second week of our internship was a busy one. We continued working at the South African National Gallery for Carol’s African Art exhibition. This included padding a rectangular pole and sewing it for a textile, making shoulder pads for the traditional shirt, and sewed padding on multiple poles for textiles.
This was the first week we got to go on a Mobile Museum with our supervision Stella. The Mobile Museum is a way to educate children about museums in the surrounding townships, especially those who cannot afford to attend the museum themselves. When we got to the township, we helped Stella assemble his presentation, which was full of dead animals preserved by the Taxidermist named Nelson. He taught the children about the animals and what they have to do with museums. After, we helped organize a beading project for the kids where they make bracelets with different colored beads. I love working with kids so I especially enjoyed going on the Mobile Museum.
Since we had finished working on Carol’s exhibition, we helped our colleagues Melanie and Stacy in the Social History Museum. We started off by sorting documents in numerical order and then were tasked with laminating documents from the Apartheid Era. It was very interesting to read the personal letters written by a well-known editor at the time of Apartheid.
Mobile Museum beading activity
laminated documents from Apartheid Era
hand sewn pole for textile
Week one was cool. We met the jovial Wandile and got a quick tour of several Iziko museums before starting at the social history center. There we have been assisting the conservators Jeanine and Bradley with the Hidden Treasures exhibition. The exhibitions centers on traditional clothing and other artifacts from the indigenous peoples of South Africa.The curator Carol is lovely and tells us the backstory to each of the piece on display as we work with it. If there is one skill I acquired this week it is sewing. I knew how to hand stitch but this week has cemented those skills in addition to me learning how to use a sewing machine.In our little room that we dubbed the “workshop” we were sewing away to make stands for the textile pieces for an exhibition. This week was pretty cool because we got to put up some art pieces. That doesn’t happen in America. we had a Fourth of July Braai in honor of Independence day. It was my first time grilling. After a couple calls to various dads and brothers we got the fire going and everyone had their fill. On Friday West Coast Fossil Park. It was super cool! I’ve never seen fossils so close up. It was kind of hard to believe they were real. We also got a tour of the new facilitates that they are building.Saturday we went to a rugby game. It is much harder to follow in person. To have the full experience we bought some food and cheered the home team on. They won so I think I can safely call the night a success.
This week was the beginning of our internships at the Iziko Museums! Our first day we met with Wandile, the education coordinator who set up our internships for the next month. We went over what the next month would look like for us as we worked with the Iziko museums and what types of activities and trips that was included. Wandile is a really interesting guy and it was fascinating hearing about the work he is doing and what he is researching as well as what he will be doing when he travels to the States soon. All the people we meet have so much to say and such intriguing work that they do, I love it!
We quickly visited the Bo-Kaap museum where a large Muslim population is located; this area was particularly cool because all the buildings are of a certain style. There are also rules such as ones that prevent building anything too tall that maintain the style and authenticity of the community. Afterwards Wandile showed us a nice place to grab lunch quickly before we went to see a show at the Planetarium at the South Africa Museum. After we saw two shows we went to meet Bradley, our supervisor for the next month at the Social History building.
The rest of that week we worked with Bradley and Janine (our other supervisor) at both Social History and the National Gallery. We did a LOT of sewing the first week! We were tasked to make mannequins and stands for a new exhibition that was going into the National Gallery. We also worked with Carol Kauffman who was the curator for the exhibition, she was very fun to work with because you can see just how passionate and excited she is about the artwork. I really enjoyed learning about the objects and art that we were helping display since she has a vast knowledge of everything.
The work we did was a little annoying at times because of how tedious it seemed to be because it was mostly sewing, but it was so rewarding when we finally were able to see the finished product! I had always wanted to work in or have an inside look at how a museum prepares these exhibitions and I never realized before just how much work and detail goes into this type of stuff.
On Friday we took a little field trip to the West Coast Fossil Park which is affiliated with the Iziko Museums. It was about a two hour drive and then we were at the Fossil Park! We went on a tour of the sites where they had been uncovering fossils and had stopped because they were finished. I was surprised by the high concentration of fossils in that one tiny area, there were so many just jumbled together! That trip was a really fun way to see the other side of what the Iziko museums do. This week has definitely already been filled with really eye-opening and educational experiences and I am learning so much more than I thought I would. I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for us!
The highlight of this week for me personally was the great amount of sewing that was required of my team (Isadora, Lizz and Kiana) and I during the first few days of our internship. Although the tasks came all at once rather than one at a time, it was a great pass time and was actually therapeutic (despite the fact that we were working on a time schedule). I’m grateful that we were awarded the opportunity to work with our hands, creating objects for exhibitions, rather than doing office work.
I also enjoyed our trip to the West Coast Fossil Park. It was exciting to be able to walk through the work sites and view the behind the scenes work of archeologists.
The first day of our internship we met Wandile, our top internship supervisor and the Public Programs Coordinator for the Iziko Museums. He showed us around the different museums in the area, including the Planetarium in the South African Natural History Museum and the Bo-Kaap Museum. We ended our day meeting our other supervisors, Bradley and Janene.
The rest of the week we worked with Bradley and Janene at the South African National Gallery to help put up an African art exhibition, curated by a woman named Carol. Throughout the week we did things like pin sleeves for a dress stand, hand sewed a mannequin for a skirt, put sand in support sleeves and sewed them shut, made a large cross stand for a traditional African shirt, sewed padding on poles for textiles, and helped decide where items should go in the exhibition.
I learned to sew in middle school but had not done it since, so it was really interesting to do so much of it at once. We were lucky to have Kitty because she knew what she was doing and could help us when we needed it. Overall, I enjoyed being able to be apart of an exhibition in the South African National Gallery and it was a great first week of the internship!
Pole for traditional African shirt
Kitty and Janene putting the finishing touches on the skirt
On Friday, we got the chance to go to the West Coast Fossil park with our supervisors Wandile and Stella. It was an awesome experience because I had never seen fossils outside of a museum. It was very interesting to learn about the area because the whole park used to be a river and had very rich vegetation.
Today was our last day of adventures before our internship starts, and also the last day with our favorite professors, Marit and Nate. We started off our day driving along the coast toward Groot Constantia Vineyard and Museum, which is one of the Iziko Museums who we are interning for. We stopped at Camps Bay along the way and got out of the car to walk on the beach. There were artists on the beach constructing sand sculptures that were very beautiful. The mountains behind us and the waves crashing toward us with the sand between our toes was truly surreal.
After dusting off our feet, we got back in the van and continued on to Groot Constantia. When we got there we started off doing a wine cellar tour. There, we were taught about the wine making process, the difference between making red and white wine, and the fermentation process. After, we walked through the Iziko Museum part of the vineyard which is located in a manor house that had been there since the vineyard originated. We finished our Groot Constantia experience with a delicious dinner. I had the mussels and ravioli and I would definitely go back for more.
Once we finished dinner, we drove to Boulders Beach where a penguin sanctuary is located. I had never seen a penguin in person before, besides at the zoo, so it was really awesome to see them in their natural habitat.
We had a wonderful lazy day. After the jam packed week of exploring Cape Town the girls and I had some much needed rest and relaxation. It was great! A couple of us slept the morning away. Others enjoyed the sunny day on the porch. Still others caught up on some reading and journaling. All in all it was a day to recharge and mentally prepare for our new posts at the Iziko museums.
We started this morning by going to the District 6 Museum; one thing we all noticed when we arrived was the large number of tour groups probably due to the rainy weather. We walked through the museum and we were each given the task of finding something that stood out to us so that we could discuss it together later. Everything that we chose brought up some very interesting topics of discussion. We discussed the music trends from that time, the former uses for the building in which the museum is housed, and how the museum and the community are related, etc. I was really interested in the relationship and tensions between the residents and the government and how the government created all these laws and rules for the living conditions in District Six. However, they wouldn’t really offer any help making those changes in their lives. The dynamics of this relationship was used to introduce discussion on the dynamics of the museum and who contributed to the building and shaping of the museum and the content found there.
After the museum, we met up with Rehana Odendaal, Andre and Zora’s daughter, for lunch real quick before we returned to our apartment and made some more art! We tried a new method of stenciling and using a form of spray paint. We chose a issue that we were concerned with and we had to make an icon to represent that idea. We used acetate to cut our icons into and then we put that over a sheet of paper and sprayed some paint over it. We all made a lot of different prints and they all turned out really good! The day ended up being very fun despite that I was feeling pretty sick all day.
That night Kiana, Kitty, and Lizz went out to explore Long street and see what type of stuff was going on there. I stayed in and rested so I could I could hopefully get better soon.
Today was one of the best days of my life, thanks to Keletso (our tour guide for the day) for taking us on a food tour of Bellville. We started off at Keletso’s favorite coffee shop, Boston Coffee, where I grabbed a hot chocolate to sip while we discussed the upcoming plan for the tour. Before continuing the rest of our food tour, Keletso took us around town to see some of the most popular murals/street art in Bellville. Most of the murals eccoed the diversity that resides in capetown, and in a way brings the community together.
Next stop: more food! Our second food tasting destination was Holland Bakery (aka heaven). There we tasted some of their famous “amsterdammers”, and it was a magical experience I ended up buying 4 more before we left. We then walked down the street to Radia’s Takeaway where we enjoyed beef samosas and mini beef roties. By then I was stuffed, but we had one more stop left, Afya Cafe. In the cafe we were served butter coffee and popcorn, a light, interesting snack that concluded our food tasting tour for the day.
Later on that night we attended a supper club hosted by the famous south african artist/ apartheid activist Lionel Davis. At the end of the dinner we had a chance to speak with the artist and gift him one of our best hand printed notebooks. Our day was full of adventure, and the artist talk was a great way to wind down the day.