South Africa’s approach to history and heritage has changed over the last 25 years, with and without the patronage of politicians. In the last 10 years the call for meaningful transformation of society and its institutions has increased the tempo and pace at which museums have had to re-examine their content, role and function.
The Origins Centre on Wits campus, launched in 2006, has established a reputation as a must-see place for people with an interest in southern Africa’s history before colonial times. The staff at the centre are currently rethinking its role in the museums world. In their joint presentation, the curator and the head of the centre look back at its history, discuss a range of exciting new projects and initiatives, and chart a possible way into the future.
Tammy Hodgskiss is the Curator at the Origins Centre museum. Her PhD in Archaeology from Wits focused on ochre use in the Middle Stone Age and how ochre use can be linked with cognitive ability. Her role at Origins Centre involves curating permanent and temporary exhibitions, developing the public lecture series, public programs and educational workshops.
Amanda Esterhuysen is an Associate Professor of Archaeology at Wits and she has had a long association with the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. In 2013 she was part of a team that reconceptualised the exhibitions at Maropeng. She has also developed exhibitions for the Hominin House, the Experience Lab, and other recreational areas including the redesign of the Maropeng main exhibition. She has been managing the Origins Centre on behalf of the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies since 2018.