The Phansi Museum is a non-profit organisation that seeks to benefit the public by showcasing an impressive collection of artefacts from southern Africa. The museum had humble beginnings, initially housing only a small, personal selection of craftwork, but has grown in recent years to boast a large collection of artefacts including Zulu beadwork from the 19th Century, earplugs, wire baskets, milk pails, beer pots and dolls.
While this impressive space does not form part of the Durban Local History museums, it is certainly worth a visit. The museum highlights the ways in which everyday people contribute significantly to the promotion of material culture, art and heritage.
Take a Class or Bask in the Museum’s Incredible Collection
The museum also boasts a gallery space, known as the Phansi Gallery, and the African Art Centre which showcases and sells local art. There are also a number of exciting classes to be taken. Speaking of the various workshops on offer, Thobekile Mbanda, from the museum says:
“We have Indigenous Saturday Skill development programmes for children, offering pottery classes, guitar lessons, storytelling and arts and crafts sessions, and we are now also open for tours of the museum, which houses 20 000 artefacts that tell a magical and beautiful story of our cultural heritage.”
Roberts House – A Victorian National Monument
The Phansi Museum is also located in a very interesting place, namely Roberts House. This Victorian National Monument was “built in the late 19th century [and showcases] middle-class British colonial [villa] style [architecture].” The daughter of the family, Esther Roberts, was born in the house and went on to become the “first female social anthropologist in the colony of Natal.” She did a lot of work with indigenous populations and was a social activist at heart. She was a member of the Black Sash organisation, a resistance movement led by liberal white women during apartheid. Esther also collected a wide range of artefacts during her career, and many of these are housed at the Phansi Museum.
Next time you are in Glenwood, the Phansi Museum and African Art Centre are definitely spaces worth visiting.