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Origins Centre gets set to ‘rock’ 2019 in style

The Origins Centre is looking forward to a busy year of growth and new horizons.

Not only is the museum opening a new wing in 2019, it’s also gearing up to host more public events and exhibitions, as well as monthly themed fun days to introduce children to the fascinating world of archaeology and palaeontology.

Origins curator Dr Tammy Hodgskiss says the renovation of the Spirit Room, which will boast upgraded display cabinets, more interactive elements and enhanced lighting, is just the start. The bottom floor of the rock engravings wing is also being remodelled, and is expected to be launched by mid-year.

“It’s very exciting – we’re hoping to have as many as possible of our engraved boulders on display, about 80 in total,” she says. The new wing will comprise one floor of exhibits and two floors that can be used as temporary exhibition spaces, or as venues for events and functions. This forms part of an ongoing makeover that will gradually see the museum becoming more interactive to keep pace with the times.

The Origins Centre already has a number of temporary exhibitions and book launches lined up for the year.

Among these is the exhibition Through the Eyes of an Archaeologist, which opens on 28 February 2019 and foregrounds the work of South African archaeologist Professor Revil Mason.

As the first head of the Wits archaeology department in the 1970s, Prof Mason was instrumental in setting the foundation and standard for the practice of archaeology in South Africa. He conducted pioneering surveys and research at archaeological sites, including stone-walled Iron Age settlements in the Suikerbosrand area and iron-smelting furnaces at the Melville Koppies. Prof Mason worked tirelessly to convince officials of the need to recognise and celebrate Africa’s deep past, and the role that African ancestors played in the making of modern South African society.

This informative and interactive exhibition is sure to inspire. There will be amazing archaeological artefacts on display – from copper necklaces and iron tools to ancient preserved plant material, as well as aerial and LiDAR photographs (a surveying method that uses lasers) of ancient homesteads, and interactive exhibits where you can touch the tools and pottery the inhabitants used. You can also examine archaeological artefacts through a microscope.

In February and March 2019, two free book launches will be hosted at the centre in association with Wits University Press.

The first to be launched is Dress as Social Relations, in which Norwegian researcher Vibeke Maria Viestad challenges the myth of the “nearly naked” San Bushmen and instead looks into their manner of dress and personal adornment from an ethnographic point of view.

The second book is Visionary Animal by researcher and photographer Renaud Ego, who, in the words of artist and academic Pippa Skotnes, “reanimates” San rock paintings through his evocative photographs and words.

Plus, from 2 March 2019 and every first Saturday of the month thereafter, the Origins Centre will host #FirstSaturdays. These are children’s activity days filled with cool stuff such as hunting for dinosaur eggs, digging for ancient treasures and exploring the fascinating past through fun, and often messy, activities. Budding artists who attend the first fun day will also have their dinosaur drawings entered into the Night of 1 000 Drawings project on 30 March 2019.


There are also exciting plans afoot to coincide with the expected launch in May of the museum’s new wing – keep an eye on the Origins Centre events page for details.