The Arend Dieperink Museum is a bequest by Arend Dieperink (1909-1986), a government employee, who began his collection at the age of 12 and handed it over to the Potgietersrus Kultuurraad in 1968 to start a museum. In 1969, it was handed over to the municipality which has managed the museum since then. Dieperink was the first curator of the museum.
The museum is housed in the old Klipskool (one of the very few historical buildings which remain in the town). The building typifies the architecture of schools in the Bushveld in the 1920s. Construction of this Edwardian-style building started in 1915 using local sandstone with quartzite, which was brought from the nearby Strydpoort mountains by oxwagon, and then dressed on-site.
The school opened as a dual-medium government schol in 1917 and was used as a primary school until 1964, when it became a store for Potgietersrus Tobacco Corporation until the museum opened in 1968.
The area in front of the museum has an astounding collection of old agricultural equipment — tractors, ploughs, oxwagons and even the generator that supplied the town with electricity.
If its main focus is the settlement of the town and surrounding areas, it goes far further back into man’s evolution through the Stone and Iron Ages with information on Makapan’s Valley covering times from over 3 million years ago.
The old school hall houses the display on the development of Potgietersrus with objects belonging to Voortrekker leader, AH Potgieter, as well as a very beautiful Victorian church organ built in 1860.
Further displays show Dieperink’s family heirlooms and a duplication of his study. There are also displays showing a typical Bushveld house, the activities of women and the activities of men. The Potgietersrus Tobacco Corporation helped with an exhibition showing the role of tobacco in the area.
The Museum is well worth a visit… if you can get into it, because it’s closed on weekends when most families are able to. I’m prepared to bet that if it opened just on Saturday mornings, it would see more visitors then than it sees in the whole of the week!
The Museum really is one of Mokopane’s biggest — potential — resources, but it’s hidden away behind the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism office on the main street. Now imagine if those offices were relocated within the Museum, the old office pulled down and an attractive public square created between the Museum and the main road!
Imagine the wonderful grassed courtyard in the centre of the old school delivering on its promise of teas, coffees and mampoer tastings. But it’s all going to need a paradigm shift to realise the incredible potential of this place. As the museum brochure says: “The Museum has a tea garden where coffee/tea (with powdered milk) and cold drinks can be obtained.” Please! Pick n Pay is across the road.
Note: The Mokopane Tourism Office also gets a thumbs down and needs to make up its mind if it does cater for tourists. It closes early on Friday afternoons and is closed all weekend.