Rock art
Display at the Origins Centre
Rock art
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Origins Centre

Origins Centre is the world’s only museum dedicated to exploring and celebrating the history of modern humankind.

The Museum provides visitors with a unique experience of Africa’s rich, complex heritage and boasts an extensive collection of rock art from the Wits Rock Art Research Institute.

Journey of discovery

Exhibits take visitors on an extraordinary journey of discovery, which begins with the origins of humankind in Africa. It then moves through the development of art, symbolism and technology on the continent. The second phase of the Museum focuses on the fossils discovered in South Africa and the contribution that these fossils have made to understanding the development of humankind. The journey then continues, showing the destruction of the diverse southern African rock art traditions – the world’s oldest continuous art forms, before ending with the rediscovery of these ancient masterworks in a contemporary world.

The Centre is home to a vast array of palaeoanthropological, archaeological and genetic materials charting the origins of humankind.

Opportunities for art students

The museum offers many opportunities for art students of all ages to participate in visual analysis of original examples of rock painting and engravings: sketching and copying images; studies of functional and symbolic meanings in tools and other artifacts; exploring how early artists made pigments, brushes and various methods of making; responses, interpretations and inspiration.

There are also five major contemporary artworks that can be studied and explored for the ways in which artists interpret and respond to the research of archeologists and paleontologists.