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The National Museum and Art Gallery

The National Museum and Art Gallery near the Main Mall in central Gaborone has an exhibit hall of display cases depicting Botswana’s history and is cultural diversity. Unfortunately, it is poorly lit and in need of maintenance and improvement, but it is worth a visit. The Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday and is free. The Musuem’s two galleries often have exhibits of varying quality. Every August, the Art Gallery hosts the national basket show, with baskets of all shapes and designs on display, as well as tapestries and pottery.

The Botswana Society (www.botsoc.org) also sells its many publications on Botswana and souvenirs at the Museum’s “Mochudi Rondavel.”

national museum

The Museum is home to a permanent collection of wildlife exhibits, as well as crafts and paintings by local artists, dating from the 1960s onwards. This purpose-built gallery also hosts a number of exhibitions, many of which are aimed at showcasing the work of local artists. In the courtyard outside is a collection of transport-related exhibits, including a steam locomotive.

TIMES Tuesday to Friday – 09:00 to 18:00, Saturday and Sunday – 09:00 to 17:00. Closed Monday.

Admission: free

Address: Badiri Extension 5, Gaborone, Botswana

Museums are also found in the surrounding towns of Molepolole (Sechele I museum), Kanye (Seepapitso), but the best experience will be had 45 minutes north of Gaborone at the village of Mochudi, home of the Phuthadikobo Museum. It is open Monday through Friday (but strangely not on weekends). You’ll need your own vehicle and 3 hours to see things at a leisurely pace. After entering Mochudi, drive to the T-junction in the shopping area, and turn left. After a short while, turn right at the sign pointing you in the direction of the Kgotla and Chief’s office. Bear right at the first Y-junction and drive a short distance to the Chief’s offices, where you can park. Ask directions to the museum. Anyone there will be glad to assist. The museum is reached on a cement and stone staircase leading to the top of Phuthadikobo hill. The Museum contains many artefacts and photographs illustrating the history and culture of the Bakgatla people, who have quite an interesting history. A small craft shop sells well-crafted wall hangings, T-shirts, postcards, books and other souvenirs. After touring the Museum, climb the smooth, rounded rocks and ledges behind the Museum for a spectacular view of Mochudi. At the foot of the hill below, you’ll see the remains of long-abandoned rondavel walls, as Mochudi “modernized” its architecture by going to rectangular concrete houses with zinc and shingle roofs. By driving around Mochudi above the chief’s compound, you may chance on one of the older-style rondavels with decorated walls and courtyards, in the traditional style.

Art Galleries

Apart from the National Museum, original painting, sculpture and sketches can be viewed at Botswanacraft in Broadhurst Industrial off the Western Bypass. They carry a large selection of baskets, cloth and souvenirs, including decorated ostrich eggs. Much of their stock, however, is not made in Botswana, and it is on the pricey side.

The finest offering of original oil and water-based paintings, and some excellent pieces of San art, are to be found at the Frame Gallery, located inside the Fairgrounds Shopping Mall, near the junction of Old Lobatse Road and Samora Machel Drive.