THE NEW YORK TIMES | By Roslyn Sulcasoct
CAPE TOWN — The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which opened here last month in a reincarnated grain silo and is drawing around 3,000 visitors a day, appears set to become the dominant arts institution on the continent.
It’s already a controversial one, the target of competing and contradictory views. Zeitz Mocaa, as it is known, has been hailed as “Africa’s answer to Tate Modern,” and “a new chapter in South Africa’s history.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in a rare appearance at the opening ceremony, mimed a phone call from former President Nelson Mandela in heaven: “Yes!” Mandela told him. “This is what we were fighting for!”
At the same time, art devotees from Africa and abroad have criticized the museum as an elitist emulation of Western institutions, disengaged from local communities.
Both views have some validity.
The $38 million new museum houses the collection of Jochen Zeitz, the German-born philanthropist and former chief executive officer of Puma SE, who has been amassing contemporary work from Africa and its diaspora since 2008. The building’s simple concrete exterior and cut-glass-faceted windows give little hint of the spectacular cathedral-like interior, with 80 white-cube galleries over nine floors on either side…read more
Image: The front view of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, built by Heatherwick Studios from a repurposed silo. | Credit Iwan Baan