Cape Town to get Museum of Contemporary Art


Today, 19 November, the V&A Waterfront unveiled the ZEITZ Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) as the major new cultural institution to be housed in the Grain Silo building. Built in 1921, and at 57m tall, the Grain Silo remains an icon of the Cape Town skyline.It will become a platform for artists across Africa and house the largest collection of African contemporary art across 9,500 sqm of space.

a major new cultural institution that will focus on collecting, preserving, researching, and exhibiting cutting edge contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora.

Zeitz MOCAA, is a new not-for-profit institution, with the V&A committing over R500-million to the development required for the establishment of the Museum.  This investment will further the development of art in Africa and acknowledges the important cultural and financial contribution the visual arts sector makes.

The height of the Grain Silo and its strong silhouette gives it a character that has set it apart as an unusual structure within the V&A Waterfront. The reuse of the structure to house Zeitz MOCAA combines ingenuity, resourcefulness and beauty in a way that will be unique for Africa and give greater respect to the work displayed.

Zeitz MOCAA forms part of a master plan for the Silo district that includes mixed-use developments of residential, commercial, leisure and hotel property with the transformed Grain Silo as the central focus of a public plaza.

Source: Visi and Zeitz MOCAA

The architect for the new museum will be announced in February 2014.

  • 9 floors
  • 6,000 sqm exhibition space
  • an entire floor dedicated to education
  • 1 floor for events of up to 1,000
  • 2 floors to a permanent collection
  • 2 floors for traveling exhibitions
  • rooftop sculpture garden
  • archival room, restaurants, book shops

Zeitz MOCAA is set to welcome its first visitors at the end of 2016. Until the extensive renovations to the Silo complex are complete, selections from the Zeitz Collection will be presented at Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion, a museum-quality temporary exhibition space also at the V&A Waterfront. The inaugural exhibition which opens at Zeitz MOCAA Pavilion on 23 November, will present the work of Swazi artist Nandipha Mntambo.


Despite facing some initial difficulties, work on the foundations of Cape Town’s elevator began in 1921 with Mr. Xavier Brain as Resident Engineer. By February 1923, these difficulties had been overcome and work on the superstructure commenced in June of the same year. Up to 1,000 men were employed on the construction at any one time and work continued on what was called the “grey towering slab of concrete” throughout the day and night.

Apart from claiming the record as South Africa’s highest building, at 180 feet (57 metres), the elevator also claimed a world record for having had 4,800 cubic yards of concreting done in 14.5 days. According to statistics made available to the Cape Argus in May 1924, it was recorded that 17,500 bags of Cape Portland cement and 145 tons of reinforcing steel was used in the storage bins.

Read more about the history here.


View images of the interior of the Grain Silo building here.

Source: SMCT at

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Feature Image: coda at

There are 7 comments

    1. Rashiq Fataar

      Ah. Just added a link to your flickr profile. I see it wasn’t hyperlinked.

  1. Mary Anne

    How are they choosing the architect for this project? Is it a competition?

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