The new Bead Gallery at the Talana Museum was officially opened on 24 October 2002.
Although other museums and art galleries in South Africa have displays of beads there is nothing of the scale or variety of this exhibition. It is the only one of its kind in South Africa and exhibits beadwork used by various South African cultures as well as from further abroad.
The exhibition shows the manufacture of beads over the past 30 000 years in cultures around the world. Its focus is on beads and their use in South Africa, in religion, for decorating clothing, for personal adornment, as a communication medium, in trade and in interior decorating.
Various displays incorporate beads used in Indian culture and religion, African beadwork, with a particular focus on Zulu beadwork from the Msinga area, royal beadwork from Ulundi, and Xhosa, Fingo and Ndebele beadwork. There is a section on beads used in western culture.
The exhibitions also shows many different kinds of beads from China, Czech Republic, India and South Africa. Together with this are some amazing tales of the beliefs and expectations attached to the wearing or carrying of beads across the centuries.