Fish Hoek Valley Museum to get a make-over

The Fish Hoek Valley Museum will soon get a much-needed make-over.

The City of Cape Town has approved a make-over for the vagrancy-plagued Fish Hoek Valley Museum.

The R600 000 project will include fencing the museum; repairs to the roof; painting of the roof, walls, windows, and doors; and high-pressure cleaning of the front driveway and walkway areas, according to mayoral committee member for corporate services Theresa Uys.

The inside of the museum will be painted, the leak-damaged ceiling repaired and its electrical wiring upgraded.

When the City fenced off the civic centre about three years ago it drove the vagrants who had been sleeping there to the museum. With growing vagrancy there, the museum’s curator Sally Britten last year sounded an appeal on social media for help. At the time, the museum’s storage room roof had to be replaced after it had collapsed under the weight of vagrants climbing over it to reach the back garden.

Ms Britten complained that museum staff, visitors and nearby residents had to endure the smell of human faeces and urine and the museum had to pay a gardener to clean up litter, human excrement and used condoms (“A blight at the museum,” Echo, June 30, 2022).

Following her plea, the Fish Hoek Lions did repairs and cleaning at the museum (Lions to the rescue at Fish Hoek museum,” Echo, August 4, 2022).

But when the Echo visited the museum on Thursday March 2, it was clear the problem had not been solved: two people were sleeping in front of the garage, and litter was strewn around the front and in a corner next to the garage.

There was a black mark on the wall that looked like it had been caused by a fire and faeces was visible near the front door.

Ms Uys said the site would be handed over to a contractor on Thursday March 23 for what was expected to be an eight-week, project pending “unforeseen delays and inclement weather.”

“The installation of the fence will take place within the project duration. The exact date is dependent on the vendor’s programme of works as the boundary wall requires repairs prior to the installation of the fence,” she said.

Ms Britten said that she and the museum’s board of trustees, as well as volunteers were very grateful to the City for “this wonderful and long-awaited make-over”.

She said it would make the museum clean, safe, and attractive to visitors.

“Once the fence is in place, it will be possible to tidy up the garden and keep it looking pleasant, as well as make use of the back garden for functions.”

Ms Britten said the timing of the project was good as the museum, which covers history from Clovelly, Silvermine, Noordhoek, Ocean View, Masiphumelele, Kommetjie, Scarborough, and Brakkloof, had recently added new exhibitions.

The new exhibitions include a display of all the graveyards and cemeteries in the valley, a display of the once prolific morel mushrooms which grew in south-facing damp places many years ago, and a display of the two dolphins known as “Fish” and “Hoek” that returned from time to time and joined people swimming.

Ms Britten said while not a display, hard copies of the False Bay Echo from the 1950s to the early 2000s, were also available, and the upgrading of the Peers Cave room with fresh photographs, diagrams, and information was under way.

“Documents, photographs and, in some cases, artefacts with relation to these areas are all in the museum, and visitors from all these areas are welcome to visit. Although the museum is currently only open three days of the week due to a shortage of volunteers, visitors and school groups are always welcome to phone ahead and make appointments to visit,” she said.

To make an appointment, call Ms Britten at 072 213 0600 or assistant curator Margaret Gundry at 083 701 0183.

The mess left behind after vagrants spent the night at the Fish Hoek Valley Museum earlier this month.
Litter left in front of the Fish Hoek Valley Museum by vagrants.