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Children’s museum catalysing innovations in creative learning, children’s rights, parent engagement and social cohesion.

Play Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa
Disrupting the idea of a “museum,” Play Africa developed a flexible museum model to bring transformative learning experiences promoting creativity, innovation and connection to a divided society. Through replicable programmes and exhibits, Play Africa empowers children, parents and teachers with learning approaches that bring global thinking to classrooms and communities.

Re-imagining cultural institutions for our youngest citizens

What we do?

Play Africa is pioneering, de-centralised children’s museum that creates inclusive spaces for high-quality play and playful learning. In six years of successful operations, we’ve become a platform to champion children’s rights, bring families together, and foster social inclusion through inspiring play exhibits and facilitated programmes.

In Johannesburg, we are based inside a former prison at the iconic Constitution Hill, just 15 metres from Nelson Mandela’s cell. We transform this apartheid-era prison from a site of humiliation, oppression and fear, into a joyful family playscape of discovery and learning. However, not every child can come to us, so we create pop-up experiences in the city itself -- in school halls, parks, community centres and inner city rooftops. 

We developed a scalable, replicable model to create Play Africa experiences in a range of urban contexts. The majority of our visitors include children who from low-income homes, underserved communities, are physically or mentally disabled, neglected, orphaned, homeless, refugees or asylum seekers, physically and/or mentally abused or traumatised. We offer special access hours twice a month to make special provision, and remove additional barriers, for children with disabilities and special needs.

With a demonstrated track record of social impact, combined with world-class back-end controls and a realizable strategy for sustainable growth, we are poised to scale in several locations across sub-Saharan Africa and are looking for the right strategic partners.

Why we do it?

Everyone deserves access to safe environments where they can play, create, discover and connect with one another, so we make 21st-century, high-quality playful learning available to everyone – from all walks of life and abilities. Everyone who visits Play Africa can try new play experiences in science, technology, engineering, arts and math, that are locally-relevant and rooted in educational pedagogies. Over the last five years, we’ve created inclusive, scalable, appropriate solutions in a society that is highly polarized, deeply unequal and characterised by exclusion. 

Five days a week, we offer free, safe and inclusive public play and educational spaces open to the 1 million children age 10 and under in greater Johannesburg, and increasingly attract visitors from neighbouring provinces. Besides making provision for play on site at Constitution Hill, we conduct right to play outreach and advocacy programmes in underserved communities that directly serve tens of thousands of children nationwide.

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Innovation Overview
Target Group
25 000
Tips for implementation
Contact information

See this innovation in action

How to Inspire Children's Creativity, Problem Solving and Joy: Play Africa Children's Museum Video
Testimonial: Play Africa Children's Museum Sensory Play Exhibit for Children with Autism - RMB
How does Play Africa promote creativity and innovation in South Africa's schools? VIDEO
How to Stop Bullying & Xenophobia: Play Africa Children's Museum Fosters Inclusion of Refugees Video
Play Africa Connects (COVID-19 Response) - Supporting Your Child's Emotional Well-Being
Play Africa Connects (COVID-19 Response) - Parenting Children with Disabilities During Lockdown
Launch of Play Africa's Courtroom for Children's Rights in South Africa
Partnering with Parents How to Inspire Children's Creativity, Problem Solving and Joy


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