The National Cultural History Museum houses vast collections documenting the life of South Africans, from the early Stone Age, through the Iron Age, and up into our day.Notable exhibitions include the San Art exhibition, the Marabastad exhibit as well as an art gallery. Various temporary exhibition are also held and a conference room and auditorium are also available for hire.
The Transvaal Museum and the National Cultural History Museum shared most of their early history. In 1892 the Staatsmuseum ("State Museum") was founded. It was housed in the market hall near Strijdom Square (formerly Market Square). The collection grew rapidly and soon had to move to a larger location.
In 1904, after the Anglo-Boer War, the museum moved to premises on Boom Street. The name of the museum changed to the Pretoria Museum, and later changed to Transvaal Museum.
Construction on the current Transvaal Museum building on Paul Kruger Street was started in 1910, and in 1912 the first part of the collection was moved there. In 1925, the natural history exhibitions were also relocated.
The historical, anthropological and archaeological collections remained at the Boom Street museum. In 1963, a separate budget was granted to the maintenance of this collection and in 1964 it became completely separated from the natural history section of the Transvaal Museum, when it was founded as the National Cultural History and Open Air Museum (now only called the National Cultural History Museum).
The building in Boom Street was steadily deteriorating and a new premises was sought for the safety of the collection. In 1993 the Old Mint building (which was also the former site of a prison) was allocated for this purpose. The building was adapted to accommodate the museum collection and was opened in 1997.
In 1999 the National Cultural History Museum and the Transvaal Museum were once again amalgamated, with the addition of the South African National Museum for Military History, to form the Northern Flagship Institute. Although all three museums operate independently, they are managed by one museum board, Ditsong.