Many visitors passing through this world-class museum find themselves emotionally unsettled by its meticulous chronicling of apartheid history. Your journey through the modernist concrete structure begins when you are given an entry pass labeling you as either white or nonwhite; you wander through galleries of massive identification cards emphasizing the dehumanizing aspect of racial profiling. A life-size photograph of an all-white race classification board greets you, as do newspaper reports about the board's ridiculous methods (such as sports preferences). It's an emotionally taxing start to a journey that grows in intensity as the history of South African racial segregation and resulting political turmoil is played out in vivid photographs, well-researched textual displays, and gut-wrenching video footage. Besides paying tribute to the triumphs of black political leaders and white liberals who contributed to democracy, several installations and spaces evoke the dreadful horrors of apartheid rule, like the bleak hangman's nooses symbolizing the number of political prisoners executed during apartheid rule until as late as 1989. You can also lock yourself in one of three tiny solitary confinement cells that would have serviced prisoners facing lengthy periods of detention without trial.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010