Voortreker museum

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Msunduzi Museum / Voortreker Museum

The nucleus of the Voortrekker Museum was established in 1912 in the Church of the Vow which had been built in 1840 to fulfill the vow the Voortrekkers had made to God before the Battle of Blood River, or Ncome, that, if he would grant them victory, they would build a Church in his honour. The museum houses many Voortrekker relics including a water bottle and Bible, which belonged to Piet Retief and were found at KwaMatiwane, where he and his party had been killed on the orders of King Dingane.

Since the early 1990s, the museum has evolved into a multi-cultural institution showcasing the history of all of the people of the province. The museum now also consists of the former Longmarket Girls’s School, which houses the administration and a number of displays, the Shiva Indian Temple, which is an exact replica of the Groutville Shiva Perumal temple, built by Perumal Naicker in 1937, a Zulu hut in the museum yard, Andries Pretorius’ House built in 1842, and, at 333 Boom Street, the oldest double-storey house in Pietermaritzburg.

Among the unique treasures on display in the Voortrekker Museum are King Dingane’s chair, carved from a single piece of wood, his headrest and some beads found in the remains of his palace at Mgungundlovu. There is also what is reputed to be the second-oldest wagon in South Africa, built in 1824 and used by Voortrekker Albert Smit during the Great Trek, and a number of sculptures by Mary Stainbank.




Church of the Vow

The Church of the Vow is the original part of the museum, and houses exhibitions dealing with the history of the Church, the Vow the Voortrekker made before the Battle of Bloodriver/ Ncome, and the lifestyle of the Voortrekkers. The original pulpit, made by 2 German Craftsmen in 1840, is still on display.

Andries Pretorius House

The Pretorius House was awarded the Master Builders of SA Award for Historical Buildings in 2008, and is supposedly the first double-storied farmhouse that was built in Natal. It is furnished with items and furniture from the 1850’s, most of which belonged to Voortrekkers who settled in Natal.

The Voortrekkerhuisie (Boom Street)

This is one of the oldest original Voortrekker houses built in Pietermaritzburg, and dates from the early 1840’s. At the moment it houses a small display of items from the Anglo Boer War, specifically focussing on the concentration camps in Natal.

E.G. Jansen Extension

The Extension, added to the museum in 1955, is home to one of the original oxwagons used on the Great Trek, as well as a large number of Voortrekker memoribilia. The story of the origin of the Great Trek, its leaders and some of its most touching incidents is depicted.


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