Between Johannesburg, Maboneng and MOAD. Exploring the decline of the Museum of African Design

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The Museum of African Design was the first museum of its kind in Africa. It was located in Johannesburg in a creative cluster turned neighbourhood, called the Maboneng precinct. After four years, the museum was eventually forced to shut down in July 2017. This study looks at three seemingly unrelated subjects, namely Johannesburg, Maboneng and the Museum of African Design, and dissects different concepts, in an attempt to understand the core issues that drove the museum down a path of despair. A research was done to determine what the main contributing factors for the closure of the museum were, and whether this museum’s decline could have been prevented. The methodology used for this study is based on qualitative research methods, namely triangulation. Thus, a combination of one semi-structured interview, thick description, literature analysis and data collection was used. The findings show that Johannesburg’s history of segregation is still deeply rooted in Johannesburg’s society, and has caused a separation in terms of people’s cultural identity. These factors, along with the lucrative goal that accompanies the gentrification strategy executed in order to create Maboneng are only a few of the factors underlying the museum’s closure. Finally, this study seeks to offer insight into a neglected subject, as no literature has been written on the Museum of African Design, and existing literature on the Maboneng precinct and other museums in Johannesburg is limited.
Faculteit der Letteren