The Origins Centre is located in the Wedge at Yale Road in Johannesburg; and is operated in partnership with the University of Witwatersrand’s archaeological department. Significant archaeological materials have revealed time and time again that Africa is the cradle of humanity, or the mother of mankind. Credible and compelling scientific data testifies that, the Homo sapiens species, which humans comprise, sprang in Africa; and later spread to other parts of the planet. The museum is therefore entirely dedicated to exploring and celebrating the emergence, history and subsequent evolution of humanity. Through a well executed fusion of avant-garde technology and creative vision, the sequential structure of the museum enables visitors to get a glimpse into the complex and sometimes mysterious history of mankind.
The museum commences with an exploration of the origin of Homo sapiens; and provides a structured and persuasive hypothesis on how humans spread from Africa to the rest of the world.
The second section of the museum covers the evolution of art, symbolism, technology and language in Africa. Exhibitions, film, holograms and touch screens, coupled with narratives, spotlight the heritage of the San people (Bushman), whose genetic DNA print has been linked to the early Homo sapiens (160 000 years ago). Much is illustrated as regards the rock art, ancient tools, belief systems and significant spiritual dances of the San people.
The exploration highlights the destruction of the fascinating and diverse Southern African rock art traditions by foreign elements, and terminates more positively with the rediscovery of these ancient masterpieces in the contemporary world. On display is an extensive collection of rock art from the Witwatersrand University Art Research Institute. Exhibitions at the museum demonstrate how our understanding of human evolution has been enhanced by genetic testing.