Nelson Mandela: The Official Exhibition

Things to do, Exhibitions
5 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
Lily FRANEY SOUTH AFRICA - CIRCA 1990: Nelson Mandela, Alfred Nzo and Joe Slovo in Cape Town, South Africa in 1990 - Nelson MANDELA at the airport to greet Alfred NZO and Joe SLOVO, the secretary general of the South African Communist Party, back from exile. (Photo by Lily FRANEY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Time Out says

Discover the legacy of the remarkable Nelson Mandela in this very special exhibition that focuses on his important contribution to the Anti-Apartheid movement. There'll be exclusive unseen film, photos and over 150 historical artefacts on loan from the Mandela family on display. 



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5 out of 5 stars

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You may think that you know a lot about the life, career and impact of Nelson Mandela, but this stunning exhibition will repeatedly overwhelm you with the power of one of the most important world figures of the last sixty years. From the mementos, clothing, documents and other items from his childhood to his university days to his work with the ANC to his imprisonment on Robben Island to his freedom and presidency of South Africa, this exhibition leads you slowly and powerfully through Mandela's extraordinary life. A simple map showing his travels for the ANC and testimony from those who suspected that the man hiding from authorities wasn't an ordinary household servant (because he read newspapers with his feet up on the furniture and didn't know how to serve tea) are more than enough to emphasise how extraordinary Mandela's life was, but as you move from room to room, you are confronted with evidence of Mandela's courage, leadership and shrewdness at understanding human nature, even when it was the cruel and unjust behaviour of his tormentors. Very highly recommended.


A really educational & emotional excibition about the life of Nelson Mandella. Well organised, immersive and full of unique objects/clothes/documents gathered in this new gallery space in Waterloo. Not to be missed!


Nelson Mandela is an icon of our time and it's easy to see why an exhibition on his life would be inspiring, interesting and informative. There was a lot of information and many pieces, but the exhibition never felt overwhelming. It was well organised and the space is used really imaginatively. We had the pleasure of hearing from Christo Brand who was one of Mandela's prison guards and later a friend - his stories really made the exhibition come to life. My only slight criticism was that every story has two sides and I think this exhibition only tells one side.


No matter how many times we hear about the Nelson Mandela story, it is very compelling, thought-provoking, moving, powerful and insightful. You end up learning new things each time about the impact he had and continues to have. Despite all what he went through “his enemies became his partners”. He had hope, never gave up and he fought for CHANGE!

I highly recommend this exhibition. It is an immersive experience showing unseen film, photos and displays of 150 historical artifacts/personal effects on loan from the Mandela family, museum and worldwide archives. 

I believe there are so many takeaways from it and I feel that everyone should visit and educate yourself - Young and old of Madiba's journey to freedom. You will need an hour and a half to get through all of the exhibition - as there is a lot to view.


I visited Cape Town last year and was really disappointed to find that Robben Island was closed for two days when we were there so we couldn't visit it. So it was great to be able to visit the exhibition which I thought was really interesting, I think they have set it out really well with varied mediums through which you discover so much about Mandela's life and the struggles that many people went through. There was lots of interactive displays and I wished we'd had more time because an hour and half later we found that we had to rush through at the end, so I'd definitely agree and say leave yourself plenty of time. Some of the interactive displays were very quiet and quite hard to hear but that would be my only criticism of the exhibition.


I highly recommend this exhibition. It is extremely insightful and follows Nelson Mandela's life from birth to death. The location for this exhibition is also ideal, located in the Waterloo Vaults. There is a vast amount of food and drink options nearby so you can make a whole day/evening out of your visit. Make sure you give yourself enough time to thoroughly look through the exhibition as there is a lot of interactive displays.


I really enjoyed the exhibition. It was extremely educative and interesting. I learned a lot I did not know about Mandela's fight against apartheid.

I find the chronology of the exhibition really interesting - worldwide major events are put in perspective with what was happening in South Africa.

You can expect to spend an hour and a half wondering around, while learning what made Mandela the man we all heard about.


Really enjoyed this exhibition. It offers a chronological walk through Nelson Mandela's life, from his childhood until death, and has a great deal of information about the apartheid and historical events of the time. I loved the mix of interactive mediums used to display the material; it really was captivating and I ended up having to rush at the end because I was running out of time. It was fascinating reading some of his original letters to his family while in prison, and learning about the conditions he was subject to while in there. Very cool little gallery too, with a couple of good bars and restaurants nearby in the Waterloo vaults for after the visit. Highly recommended.


This exhibition contains an impressive number of items and packs in a substantial amount of information. It's on the slick side, with lots of glossy displays and needlessly fancy design elements, but it's all in the service of enlightening visitors.