Former South Africa garage fixes artistic ambition

20th Nov 2013

Holidaymakers on city breaks to South Africa's Johannesburg could have been forgiven for not looking twice at the site of one of its newest, most intriguing attractions a few years ago.

That's because it used to be an old factory, churning out equipment for the mining industry before gradually falling into neglect and turned into a garage for vehicle repairs.

Then, in 2011, it was bought by the developers of the vibrant Maboneng Precinct.

The space has since staged various gallery exhibitions and events, after renovation work started in June.

Today the high-ceilinged warehouse, known as the Museum of African Design (MOAD) has been reinvented and re-opened as a modern art deco space intended to house Africa's most up-to-date design ideas and exhibit them to the world.

It is a 2,500 square metre space which claims to be the continent's first of its type and promises to be one of the most exciting new cultural sites in this bustling city.

Its creators envisage the venue becoming a pan-African platform for contemporary creativity and innovation.

MOAD director Aaron Kohn said: "The goal for it is really to become a cultural hub."

Developers added an extra floor, bathrooms and a cocktail bar but kept the building's integrity mainly intact.

Raw floors, metal bars and scaffolding ramps still dominate the three-level space to retain its industrial feel, forging a rough-edged ambience that echoes the identity of the building and its urban surroundings.

MOAD is making its first entrance into showcasing Africa's creativity with Native Nostalgia, the museum's inaugural full-length exhibition, which runs until February 9, 2014.

It examines the notion of nostalgia and what it means for the continent's artists to look at dark historical chapters fondly, including apartheid and colonialism.

Kohn said: "We want to focus on the most exciting and relevant exhibitions that we can put on with works from across the continent."

Forthcoming displays include Fashioning Africa, running from March to May next year, then Design of an African City, from June to August.

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