Current exhibitions
Natural history exhibitions
Social history exhibitions

Past exhibitions

Image: Installation view of Virtual Earth, Iziko South African Museum. Photograph by Iziko Photographer, Carina Beyer.


Great White Shark

Virtual Earth
On permanent exhibition

Virtual Earth takes the form of a Gaiasphere, an interactive digital theatre in the form of a large (3.2 m diameter) back-projected hemisphere with which animations of changes happening on the Earth’s surface can be shown. From a touch screen, visitors are able to select different views of our changing Earth, such as the Earth at night, ozone hole evolution, Earth surface temperatures, Earth core structure, and interactive atmospheric predictions. Further animations will be developed in the future. Virtual Earth enables a better understanding of climate change within a global perspective. The exhibition is funded by the Lotteries Board.

Enquiries: Valerie Mienies, Tel. 021 481 3897 or email vmienies@iziko.org.za.

Above left: Installation view of Virtual Earth, Iziko South African Museum. Photograph by Iziko Photographer, Carina Beyer.

permanent exhibition

African Dinosaurs is about dinosaurs from origin to extinction. It features two huge skeletons from North Africa, the herbivorous Jobaria and a fish-eating Suchomimus, as well as skulls of mega-carnivores, Carcharodontosaurus and Sarchosuchus. Realistic dioramas of ancient Karoo landscapes with fleshed-up reconstructions of some of our South African dinosaurs help bring the fossils back to life. These include a hatchlings scene based on a very rare specimen of dinosaur eggs containing tiny Massospondylus embryos.

Enquiries: Valerie Mienies, Tel. 021 481 3897 or email vmienies@iziko.org.za

permanent exhibition

The exhibition comprises a selection of 20 objects highlighting the beauty and diversity of natural forms across space and time. Amongst others, fossilized freshwater fish from the Triassic period, ammonites from the Jurassic, and the petrified skull of a 250- million-year-old mammal-like reptile contrast starkly with the more recent antlers of a moose, a whale skull and vertebra, the shell of a giant clam, a turtle carapace and a piece of chalice coral. Older, and even more enduring, are giant twinned quartz crystals from Namaqualand, and an iron meteorite that may date back to the beginning of the Solar System.

permanent exhibition

Diictodon, pictured here, is one of the ‘stars’ of the Fossil Stories exhibition at the Iziko South African Museum. A small plant-eating reptile from 250 million year-old Upper Permian rocks of the Karoo, Diictodon lived close to rivers and streams that ran through the ancient South African landscape at that time.

Two entwined skeletons of Diictodon are shown here. They were discovered by Paul October during a field trip in the Nuweveld Mountains behind Beaufort West. The specimens were complete enough for detailed measurements and a reconstruction of the animal as it may have appeared in life is shown here as well.

More is known about Diictodon than most other Karoo reptiles; its footprints have been found in several localities, and spiral burrows, preserved as corkscrew-like structures, contain fossil remains in the underground chambers. This is probably where the animals lived while avoiding extreme temperature conditions or carnivorous predators. Nests of very young specimens have also been discovered, but no evidence of eggs has been found.

Diictodon is almost unknown in other parts of the world. A single specimen, from rocks of the same age as the South African ones, has been found in central China, which was far removed from southern Africa, even in remote Permian times.

permanent exhibition

Iziko South African Museum has a beautiful, now iconic, cast of the first living coelacanth discovered. This cast forms the centrepiece of a new display that will include information on the coelacanth’s evolutionary history, its biology – including its special features – as well as audiovisual footage of live coelacanths. Fossilised remains of these fish will also make up part of the exhibition.

permanent exhibition

This exhibition has been 250 million years in the making. It features the fossilised skeletons of long-extinct reptiles that ruled the land areas of the world some 50 million years before the dinosaurs. Highlights include five large fossilised skeletons of mammal-like reptiles, supported by graphics portraying what they might have looked like in the flesh. Two walk-round dioramas called “Scavengers” and “Grubbers” feature finely sculpted life-sized models of these animals in scenarios that have been reconstructed from the actual fossils on display.

permanent exhibition

A display depicting a cosmic zoom to view the universe on an ever increasing scale, reaching back to almost the very beginning of our universe.

permanent exhibition

An open display featuring three large iron meteorites.

permanent exhibition

Evidence of life in the Karoo from 300 million years ago; dioramas of ancient Karoo reptiles; fossil mammals of the Cape four million years ago.

permanent exhibition

A unique collection of whale casts and skeletons, to be seen from all floors; includes a 20.5 metre blue whale skeleton.

permanent exhibition

The whale and dolphin exhibit includes 16 casts of whales and dolphins: Humpback Whale, Layard’s Beaked whale, Cuvier’s Beaked Whale, Orca or Killer Whale, Sperm Whale, Pilot Whale, Humpback Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Heaviside’s Dolphin, Common Dolphin, Dusky Dolphin, Spotted Dolphin, Striped Dolphin, Fraser’s Dolphin, Risso’s Dolphin and the Antarctic Dolphin.

permanent exhibition

Shark World is one of the world's best and most comprehensive exhibits on Chondrichthyians - the order of sharks, skates, rays and chimeras - in the world. A key attraction is the life-size, 2+ meter high model of the jaws of the Megatooth Shark, probably the largest predator the world has ever known. An AV centre presents stunning footage of sharks in their natural environments and deals with issues round shark conservation.

permanent exhibition

Depicting life in our oceans. The Sunlit Sea exhibit shows a kelp forest habitat and animals of the Open Ocean including a 4.9 m white shark, a leatherback turtle and a broadbill swordfish. The latest addition is a full sized model of a Giant Squid - Architeuthis, one of the most accurate models available. We have one of  the largest collections of giant squid in the world.

permanent exhibition

Animal life in the sub-Antarctic region.

permanent exhibition

Mainly southern African mammals, including a foal of the extinct quagga.

permanent exhibition

Southern African and exotic birds, avian evolution, dioramas of waterbirds and seabirds.

permanent exhibition

Noteworthy events during the lifetime of this tree, planted about 1850 in the Public Gardens. Tree struck by lightning, felled and removed 1939.

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