More than four years in the making, the boldly ambitious project to reimagine the V&A Waterfront’s historic grain silo into the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora has reached completion. From preserving the historic architectural legacy of what was once the tallest building in South Africa, to developing a sustainable not-for-profit public cultural institution that preserves, develops and enhances creativity, Zeitz MOCAA is a hugely important cultural landmark that will contribute to a stronger, wider appreciation of Africa’s cultural heritage.

The grain silo’s architectural redevelopment from disused industrial building into a cutting-edge contemporary art museum was undertaken by London-based Heatherwick Studio in conjunction with local South African architects, and funded by the V&A Waterfront at a cost of R500-million. The museum’s founding art collection, the Zeitz Collection, is on long-term loan, and forms the basis of the extensive art on display at the newly opened museum.

“Standing at the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is somewhat surreal. It has been a long and challenging journey, but we are delighted that we have been able to create a platform of such scale and influence for Africa,” said Mark Coetzee, Executive Director, Zeitz MOCAA.

“As a patron and supporter of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, I wanted to send my congratulations to Jochen Zeitz, the V&A Waterfront and the whole Zeitz MOCAA team, for making this dream a reality. By providing a platform for the incredibly talented and passionate artists across Africa and beyond, this museum fills a critical gap in the continent’s art scene. I am proud to be part of this journey,” said Kofi Annan, Zeitz MOCAA Patron.

“Due to the launch of a film I’m acting in, my wife and I are not able to join this exciting moment of the opening doors at Zeitz MOCAA in person. But we do want to congratulate the V&A Waterfront and our friend Jochen Zeitz on this outstanding accomplishment.

“I can’t imagine a better place than Cape Town to represent African art, but also to bring international artists to this amazing city to celebrate unity within the arts. I’m excited to participate as a patron and my hope is that the Sundance Institute and I will find a way to collaborate with Zeitz MOCAA Institute of the Moving Image so we will be able to create a stronger voice for the arts worldwide,” added Robert Redford, Zeitz MOCAA Patron.

The museum has 9,500 sq metres of custom designed space, spread over nine floors, carved out of the monumental structure of the V&A Waterfront’s historic grain silo complex. The galleries and the cathedral-like atrium space at the centre of Zeitz MOCAA have been carved from the silos’ dense cellular structure of forty-two tubes that pack the building. The development includes 6,000 sq metres of exhibition space in 100 galleries, a rooftop sculpture garden, state of the art storage and conservation areas, a bookshop, a restaurant and bar, and various reading rooms. The museum will also house a Costume Institute, and Centres for Photography, Curatorial Excellence, the Moving Image, Performative Practice, and Art Education.