Middelburg’s eminent historian Hennie Coetzee relates an interesting anecdote about the establishment of the Middelburg Museum in his book Middelburg: Hede en Verlede.
Back in 1982 the old Poor School was being converted into its new identity as town museum. It was the job of Mr PF Aucamp to visit the local businesses and ask for shelving and shop mannequins for display purposes.
Mr Aucamp’s wife worked at the town library. He drove up in his car, with a female mannequin in the seat next to him. In full view of everyone, he began kissing the mannequin rather passionately.
Mrs Aucamp was called out to witness this act of ‘infidelity’ and was, according to reports, mightily displeased until she realised she’d been ‘had’ by her husband.
As it stands today, the Middelburg Museum is a rich eclectic mix of artefact and recorded history. The local wireworkers and artists of Middelburg are well represented, and if you were looking for materials related to the Anglo-Boer War or going back even further to the days of the San Bushman, you won’t be disappointed.
The ever-faithful Middelburg Heritage Society is planning to revamp the displays sometime in the near future. But for now, it’s fun for amateur historians to nose about the variety of exhibits.
One of the most striking exhibits is simply leaning against the wall of a corridor. It is a massive clockface, almost as tall as a human. It was salvaged from the NG Moederkerk when the steeple dramatically collapsed in 1967. Instead of just doing without the steeple and just closing up the otherwise lovely building, the church was completely dismantled and a modern version was built. All that remains of the old building is the lovely church clock-face.
There is also a ‘tribute room’ to the former Poor School: a classroom preserved more or less as it should be.
An airplane artist (Tiro Vorster) and his art is celebrated on one wall. Other famous Middelburg artists include Sonnett Olls and Hester de Beer.
Contact: Irene Duda (assistant curator): 049 802 1300