Founded in 1685, Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine estate. Like the majority of wine estates of a similar vintage in the Cape Town area, its labour force prior to emancipation in 1834 rested on enslavement. Following a vine disease outbreak in the late nineteenth century, the estate passed into government ownership. It is currently operated by the arms-length Groot Constantia Trust. The manor house was rebuilt in Cape Dutch style following a fire in 1925, and has operated as a preserved site since that time. The manor house passed into the control of the South African Cultural History Museum in 1969 and, as with other sites managed by the same entity, became part of southern state-funded umbrella Iziko Museums in 1998.
Iziko’s inauguration signalled a shift towards previously marginalised histories at all its sites, with Groot Constantia no different. A revised history of Groot Constantia paying greater attention to enslaved people was written by curator Thijs van der Merwe and published in 1997. Buildings which had potentially served either as stables and/or as slave quarters were repurposed as an Orientation Centre in October 2004. As the first heritage space which the visitor reaches upon arrival, displays in this building foreground the Cloete family – owners from 1779 to 1885 – as ‘farm owners and slave owners’. Drawn from archival research, their human transactions are listed, whilst the origins, names, and worked carried out by people enslaved at Groot Constantia are also listed. A panel is devoted to the ‘young servant boy’ Friday, whose ancestral origins are linked to the suppression of the slave trade by the British Royal Navy. The selection of this story can partially be attributed to the availability of suitable museological material, given that a photograph of Friday carrying Bonnie Cloete’s archery set is included.
Swellendam Drostdy Museum is one of 28 museums affiliated with the Western Cape Provincial Government's Museum Service. The museum is located in the former court complex in Swellendam, built in 1747 when Swellendam was situated on the frontier of the Dutch Cape of Good Hope. It was founded in 1939 and its displays are somewhat dated and offer a Eurocentric interpretation of the past. The collective heritage of Swellendam is represented through a magistrate's chamber, court room, and a number of domestic settings where the landdrost and his family would have relaxed between the important duties of enforcing European jurisdiction. A safe, the only original item from the building not destroyed in an 1865 fire, occupies a prominent place as a tangible link to this past.
A display opened in one of the barn outbuildings in 2006 seeking to imagine what this outbuilding may have been like two hundred years previously when it may have functioned as slave quarters. The Drostdy Museum's display illuminates a possible surviving link, doing this through a number of straw sleeping mats, food props, and carts. A series of interpretation panels explain slavery at the Cape and give the names and roles of several people enslaved/indentured at Swellendam Drostdy. In light of this, it is somewhat problematic that the museum created controversy in 2015 when it leased one of its buildings to an upmarket eatery. This was given the name 'The Whipping Post' by its owner in reference to the whipping post which formerly stood adjacent to the jail. Activists and local politicians highlighted the links between slavery and the original whipping post, and the outlet was ultimately renamed 'The Trading Post'.