Mandela House on historic Vilakazi Street in Soweto has undergone a major restoration and renovation project.
This popular heritage site was closed to visitors from April 2008 until the formal exclusive launch and re-opening on 19 March 2009.
The renovations included structural repairs and restoration, sourcing of original fabrics and materials to match the authentic structural form of the house, the construction of a new Visitor Centre, and the design and installation of exhibitions telling the story of the house and the people associated with it. Oral history recording and research were conducted in order to authenticate objects and information on display.
The extensive nature of the renovations resulted in the closure of the site for 10 months, and many visitors to Soweto were disappointed at missing this tour highlight.
However the restoration and construction project was necessary to ultimately preserve an important part of South Africa's heritage, enshrine the dignity of the site and create an exciting and memorable tourist experience.
The restoration project was carefully researched and planned. The newly restored house and exhibition installations are intended to reflect the various layers and eras during which the Mandela family lived at 8115 Orlando West and the stories are told through sound and film, interpretive panels and images, and introductory guided tours.
8115 Orlando West, Vilakazi Street, Soweto maintains a sense of dignity and memorial suited to its important place in history, while at the same time offering visitors access to the house, the lives and events linked to it, and a very special, meaningful and uniquely South African experience.
The Soweto Heritage Trust, in addition, also commissioned the development of an identity and branding, and a range of themed merchandise for Mandela House.