Africa’s first design museum launches in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct, creating a pan-African cultural hub, changing the perception of museums, and connecting the city’s major existing art archives.

MOAD, at 281 Commissioner Street in the Maboneng Precinct, is set to launch permanently following a series of temporary installations, exhibitions and events over the past year. The space is currently undergoing a full renovation that will transform the former factory into museum and event space launching on 24 October. Its launch will be the realisation of a landmark project and attraction in Maboneng, being the first museum of its kind on the continent.

Initially pitched with the core objective of advancing problem solving ideas for Africa and beyond, MOAD will also focus on becoming a platform to present pan-African design. A cultural hub, the museum will also provide a space to promote forward-thinking design ideas and will aim to change perceptions about museums.

MOAD was developed from a factory warehouse built in the 1920s. The Museum features floor space of over 1500 square metres, with 15 metre high ceilings, ground floor retail space and an on site workshop space for artist and artisan collaborations.

The chosen launch event for MOAD is the annual Southern Guild Showcase, where South Africa’s top designers will be showcased in the museum. The 10-day exhibition will include a full program of special events and workshops, which will be open to the public.

Following this event, MOAD will introduce its full program for the year, which will present four exhibitions between November 2013 and November 2014. The inaugural exhibition, “Native Nostalgia”, guided by Jacob Dlamini’s 2009 book of the same title, considers what it means for African artists to reflect on Apartheid and colonialism in fond ways. The exhibition features artists from Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa and Benin, and is curated by the museum’s director, Aaron Kohn. The following exhibitions “Fashioning Africa” & “Design of an African City: Kinshasa”, will continue by exploring further facets of design. Admission to the exhibitions is free.

During the exhibitions, MOAD will also pilot a series of regular events and projects within the space, creating multiple platforms for outreach and engagement with the exhibitions. Regular events include monthly First Saturdays programming for families during the day, followed by a concert at night. And on Thursdays, the gallery is open late for MOAD Salon, with drinks and engaging content. MOAD Beta, the institution’s innovation platform, and MOAD Learn, the educational department, will both launch in early 2014.

MOAD’s director Aaron Kohn says, “Engaging with some of the most exciting ideas from across Africa and the Diaspora, and sharing them in engaging ways, is going to change the perception of white-walled, glass-boxed institutions.”

Kohn, who has connected with artists across the continent and holds a degree in African Studies from Columbia University, relocated to Johannesburg earlier this year to focus on creating the MOAD program. A major goal for him has been collaborating with existing cultural institutions in Johannesburg, such as the Johannesburg Art Gallery. “A key aspect of MOAD is that it will connect to the existing museum landscape of the city. We can’t ignore the amazing resources in the city, and we want to encourage more patronage across institutions.”

With all the elements in place for an exciting year ahead for the institution, MOAD looks set to be a fantastic addition to both tourism and cultural attractions in Maboneng and Johannesburg at large.