More than just a drop-dead gorgeous beach destination, Knysna was once the center of a lucrative timber industry. Take a quick hop back in time to learn about its origins. Start your self-guided tour at The Old Gaol Museum, set in a mid-19th-century jail on Queen Street in the heart of town. Wander the warren of rooms set with a small art gallery featuring Knysna landscapes by local artist Kate Truscott, wildlife paintings by Engela Steyn, and well-preserved nautical artifacts for maritime buffs. Continue down the road to the Millwood House, the town’s history museum. Cast yourself back to the 1880’s in this house replicating life from that era with a period bedroom, dining room, and kitchen. Return to the present a few blocks away at the Knysna Fine Art Gallery, which is turning heads as one of the country’s premier art institutions thanks to its mix of South African masters and up-and-coming talent. It’s set within a century-old Long Street building, but the canvases inside are decidedly contemporary. Emerging South African talents to consider adding to your own collection include Arjan van Arendonk (silicone embroidery on fabric), Gary Stephens (charcoal sketches on folded paper), and Lucinda Mudge (ceramics).
The trio of museums is a 15-minute drive from the hotel in Knysna.
Old Gaol Museum: Corner of Main and Queen Streets, Knysna; 27-(0)44-302-6320; knysna.gov.za/resident-services/community-services/museums
Millwood House: Queen Street, Knysna; 27-(0)44-302-6320
Knysna Fine Art Gallery: 6 Long Street, Knysna; 27-(0)44-382-5107; finearts.co.za