Most people probably find town museums quite boring, but I love what they have to offer. Its usually the best place to learn more about a town’s history and there is always something, usually more than one thing, new to discover in these museums. One such small town museum which I have discovered is Joubert House in the Klein Karoo town of Montagu. My timing wasn’t the best and I walked into the museum about 20 minuted before closing time on a Saturday afternoon. Even though I was the only person in the museum it didn’t stop curator Annette Cilliers from sharing her very extensive knowledge with me on a personal tour of the museum. Even though closing time was nearly on us she didn’t leave out anything and told and showed me ever bit of detail there was to be seen. She even offered to stay open a bit longer while I walked around to take a couple of photos after the tour. Ms Cilliers really deserves some kind of tourism award for what she does at Joubert House.
Joubert House was built in 1853 by 22-year old Pieter Gideon Joubert for his parents and is thought to be the oldest dwelling in Montagu. After the devastating floods of January 1981 the building, which was built from sunbaked bricks and clay, was on the verge of collapsing and the municipality decided to have it demolished. Luckily it was saved from demolition by the Montagu Museum Board of Trustees who had it restored to its former glory. Joubert House was opened as a museum in 1983 and celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2003.
Joubert House is a house museum and portrays the typical country lifestyle of the 1850’s. Each room has been meticulously recreated and each one had a unique appeal. The lounge contains the pictures of historical figures who visited the family back in the days while there is also a piece of the original wall paper. The kitchen is normally my favorite room in this kind of museum while there is also an exceptional collection of toys and individually numbered handmade porcelain dolls.
Next to the house visitors will find the town’s first jail right next to the original privy. Pieter Gideon Joubert senior was also the town’s first Justice of the Peace and anyone found disturbing the peace found themselves locked up here for a little while.
Behind the museum is an indigenous medicinal garden. Over the last 22 years the Montagu Museum has been researching the traditional uses of medicinal plants in the Montagu district as used by the Khoi, San and settler farmers from Europe. The garden contains most of the more than 120 plants that have been researched and published by the museum.