‘Humanature’ Exhibition Launch

‘Humanature’ Exhibition Launch, National English Literary Museum The launch of a new exhibition, ‘Humanature,’ by the National English Literary Museum. ‘Humanature’ explores the ways in which South African literature expresses the...

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SAMA National Conference 2018

  South African Museums Association National Conference 2018   The South African Museums Association National Conference for 2018 will be held at the National English Literary Museum, Makhanda. Delegates from around the country will present papers on the...

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Our Story


Amazwi South African Museum of Literature collects, conserves and promotes the literatures of all of South Africa’s official languages.  Previously the National English Literary Museum (NELM) –  the museum was founded with a small collection of South African manuscripts by the late Professor Guy Butler of Rhodes University in the 1960s.  Butler had a vision of a national repository for South African literary manuscripts, and this was the genesis of NELM. The Thomas Pringle Collection for English in Africa was founded in 1972. In 1974 this became the National Documentation Centre for English.  It became a Declared Cultural Institution in 1980, funded by the Department of Arts and Culture. Although autonomous, the museum is an associated research institute of Rhodes University.

In 2010, in its 30th year, the museum was awarded The Molteno Medal by the Cape Tercentenary Foundation for its achievement in preserving South African literary heritage.

In 2016 the museum moved into a new custom-designed building. The building has a 5 star rating from the Green Building Council of South Africa, the first museum building in the country to achieve this. A fantastic display of permanent exhibitions tells the story of South Africa through literature, with audio and video components and two touch screens. Temporary exhibitions are housed in the upstairs gallery.

In 2017 the number of literary artefacts in the museum’s collection stood at over 100 000. These include authors’ manuscripts, printers’ proofs, diaries, correspondence, publishers’ archives, photographs, posters, play-scripts, theatre programmes and cultural artefacts. The museum’s collection of published poems, short stories, novels, plays, autobiographies, travel writing and children’s literature exceeds 30 000.

The museum offers excellent research facilities for visiting researchers. The Education and Public Programmes Division offers a range of activities for schools, and regularly hosts book launches and other events. The museum’s facilities are available for hire to the public, including an indoor theatre, outdoor amphitheatre and two activity rooms.

The museum is open weekdays from 08:30 to 16:30.


Phone: 0466227042
Email: info@nelm.org.za



Take the online audio tour of NELM!

Online Audio Tour