Calvinia Museum was built in 1920 by the Jewish community and functioned as the Synagogue. In the late 1960s the Jewish population had reduced so much that the remaining Jewish residents closed the Synagogue.
In 1967 Mr CD van Tromp the mayor of the local municipality negotiated with the Jewish community and asked them to donate the building for museum purposes. They agreed with this proposal and the museum was opened in 1968. In 1971 the status of the museum became provincial and today it is the second largest museum in the Northern Cape.
The museum is housed in three separate buildings and these are divided into sections with outdoor exhibits such as an old steam locomotive.
Calvinia Museum showcases exhibits that represent all the cultural groups of Calvinia. They include examples of old-fashioned dresses, suits and other clothing that was used for a variety of purposes such as wedding and church ceremonies. A selection of antique sewing machines is also on display. Other exhibits tell about sheep and sheep farming, the geology of the local environment and the rainfall statistics from as far back as 1878.
Visitors can see old hand-made furniture, pianos, antique tools for making things and household and business goods. The original use of the building as a synagogue is represented by a display of items used in Jewish religious ceremonies.
Calvinia Museum includes a creative gallery with displays of local visual art and demonstrations of writing and performance art, as well as the folk dance known as rieldans.
For visitors who want to spend a night in the town the Museum offers accommodation for up to 4 persons.
The Museum is a great starting point to learn about and explore the town and its environs.
Monday to Friday: 08:00 – 17:00
Open on Saturdays by request