Pinetown Museum’s rich heritage

2016-03-08 06:00
Pinetown Museum staff (from left) Nokuthula Mthembu, Anthee Ramlucken and Nomusa Mthembu.  Photo: nosipho mkhize

Pinetown Museum staff (from left) Nokuthula Mthembu, Anthee Ramlucken and Nomusa Mthembu. Photo: nosipho mkhize

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THE Pinetown Museum, hosted by the Pinetown Library in Josiah Gumede Road, exhibits many displays of cultures, religion, tradition and the Pinetown history.
Museum officer Anthee Ramlucken said during colonial times Pinetown was the seat of the Umlaas District of the Durban County, extended from the mouth of the Umlaas River to Cato Ridge. These farming villages became the magisterial district of Pinetown, where accurate records were kept.

“Early settler families kept diaries, paintings, photographs and cultural items of old Pinetown. In 1952 Nora Dales wrote the History of Pinetown for the Van Riebeeck Festival and tried to find the original Zulu name for Pinetown.

“In 1953 Killie Campbell led a tour of historic sites in Pinetown to encourage the community to preserve their heritage. A meeting was held with the Pinetown Parks and Gardens in November 1956 to discuss the use of the St Andrews Church as a museum.

“The Pinetown Women’s Institute wrote a comprehensive history called the Annals of Pinetown in 1968, which was published by the Borough of Pinetown in 1970.
“Daphne Strutt, curator of the Durban Local History Museum and Brian Kearney helped with the identification of the Indigo Vats in 1969, which became a national heritage monument. Despite outside support and local government interest no community organisation accepted the challenge of establishing a museum.

“All the written history and documents were stored in the Pinetown Library. The resurgence of interest in local history encouraged the Pinetown Rotary Club to donate a geographic model of early Pinetown with streets and early buildings, which was displayed in the library.

“After the death of Nora Dales her research notes, Africana books and Pinetown memorabilia were kept as a bequest to be handed over to the local authority.

“She said in 1973 the Pinetown Historical Society was formed by concerned citizens to preserve local history, collect items connected to Pinetown and to work towards the establishment of a museum.
“When the Pinetown Library in Chancery Lane, became too small, a new library was designed. A small area in the 1982 library was set aside for a museum, called the Marie MacCartan Room.
“Once the museum was opened the Historical Society disbanded.
“The museum collection of artifacts was to complement the Pinetown Library Africana Collection of books, old newspapers, pamphlets and photographs.

“Market research questionnaires in English and Zulu were displayed in the museum and sent to the Pinetown branch libraries, to request community suggestions for displays, donations, and involvement in the new museum.

“Interviews with old residents were held in branch libraries with photographs taken and research conducted in white, African, Indian and coloured residential areas.”

After the market research a new museum was designed in 1994.

“A research team from KwaZulu-Natal Museum Service visited the museum to prepare material for the proposed museum in 1994.

Dr Frank Mdlalose, the Premier of Natal and an ex-pupil of St Francis College Mariannhill, opened the new multicultural museum in 1995. The Discovery Corner where old replaceable items were displayed allowed visitors to handle and use museum artifacts. educational questionnaires were placed next to Discovery Corner displays for “edutainment”.

“A museum brochure in English and Zulu was given to visitors and was included in invitations sent to all schools. After the 2000 local government election, the Pinetown and Bergtheil Museum in Westville became members of the Durban Metro Museums system ie: Local History Museum of eThekwini Municipality,” said Ramlucken.

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