Heritage Blog 2

Main Historical Exhibition

Visitors to the Museum start their tour from the Tourist office or Reception area. They then receive a brief site overview from the tour guide. 


The first stop is the original Prison Cell Block, constructed in 1862. This building is now officially The Museum. This block contains the bulk of the historical information and provides an insight into prison life in this facility – as well as in a broader South African context - over the decades and through the various era’s. Exhibitions are primarily contained in the cells on the ground floor of this block. Media includes photographic displays, text, sound, specialist lighting and some moving footage and figures positioned in some of the rooms. Stories are told through the memories and oral histories of those who were incarcerated in Pietermaritzburg and information presented should not trivialize or over-sanitise the often brutal prison experience. We have 4 era’s within the Museum, The Colonial era, The Passive Resistance era, The Apartheid era and the democracy and Freedom of 1994. These eras cover various aspects some of which are:


  • The South African War
  • The Bambatha Rebellion
  • Early struggles for liberation
  • The Role of Women in the various struggle movements
  • Prison gangs
  • Prison brutality
  • The Apartheid Years: Struggle & liberation
  • Post Apartheid and prisons today
  • Project Gateway: From Darkness into Light


The Museum is open Monday to Friday and over weekends by prior appointment.  Please contact 033 8450400 to make an appointment to visit.