Beaufort West is the oldest town in the Central Karoo where some of the world’s most interesting Stone Age sites have been discovered. San hunter-gatherers once lived here and fine examples of their rock art have been found nearby. The first farmers arrived in 1760 and were of Hugenot descent.
In 1837 Beaufort West became the first municipality in South Africa to construct a town hall and today this forms part of the museum. The museum houses a magnificent display on world-famous surgeon Professor Chris Barnard who performed the world’s first heart transplant. His father, the Reverend Adam Barnard, preached in the little church next to the town hall and the family lived in the adjacent house. In addition to these interesting old buildings there is a superb example of dressed stone architecture, or ‘snecked’ masonry in the municipal offices. This free style architecture was popular at the turn of the 20th century. Much of the dressed stonework was done by Scottish masons and prime examples can also be seen at the Christ Church Anglican Church, a Neogothic style building.