The National Museum of Southern Rhodesia

The National Museum of Southern Rhodesia


In 1936 the Government, acting on a recommendation made by the Museums Commission, chaired by Sir Henry Miers, took over The Rhodesia Museum under an Act of Parliament of Southern Rhodesia, and it was renamed the National Museum of Rhodesia.

The control was vested in a Board of Trustees appointed by the Governor. It included departments of zoology, entomology, geology, and ethnology, prehistory and national history. Under the provisions of the Act, the Board was also empowered, subject to the approval of the Governor, to acquire by agreement any existing museum in the Colony, and also, if directed by the Governor, to establish and maintain any new museum in the Colony. Dr George Arnold, continued his role as Director.

The Bulawayo City Council made available land in Centenary Park and the present building begun in 1960 is the fifth museum. The unique round museum was opened to the public on 20th March 1964 but completion of new public galleries and individual displayed has continued up to the present time.

Initially the museum had a focus on economic geology but with time successive curators have introduced new fields of interest. Many of these researchers have been leading world figures in their fields (see part curators). They have left us with one of the best collections of Zimbabwe’s, and indeed the region’s, natural heritage.

In 1981, under a policy of centralization, the National Museums and Monuments streamlined the operations of its five museums and as a result the National Museum was renamed the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe (NHMZ).


  • James Gavin
  • Keith Harrop