The original museum building in Chapel Street was donated to the people of Kimberley by Mrs Margaret McGregor in 1907, in memory of her late husband, Alexander McGregor, a diamond pioneer and mayor of Kimberley in 1886.
Designed by F Carstairs Rogers, this attractive brick building with its intricate façade conforms closely to British norms for public buildings during the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
With its neighbours, the Methodist Church and Manse, it forms one of the very few remaining urban groupings from Kimberley’s past. Achille Bocciarelli, an Italian sculptor and owner of local brickworks, sculpted the two reclining female figures on the pediment.
Miss Maria Wilman was appointed as the first curator of the museum in 1908. During the nearly forty years that she was in charge of the museum, she developed it into one of the most important in South Africa. Her fields of interest, in which she laid the foundations of the present museum collections, were Botany, Mineralogy, Ethnology and Archaeology.
In 1957 the increasing size of the collections necessitated a move to larger premises in the Chapwood Building across the street. By the late 1960s shortage of space was a real problem. Plans for a new museum building were already completed when the Kimberley Sanatorium, a historical Kimberley building, became available for such a purpose. The museum staff and collections moved to these new premises in 1973.