On the fifth anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release after twenty-seven years in political prison, and nine months after his election as South Africa’s president, his new government and its allies held an important event. On February 11, 1995, 1,200 ex–political prisoners traveled to Cape Town for the Robben Island Reunion. The first day was held at the former maximum-security prison, the site of subjugation and struggle for many of the participants. The day culminated with a creative happening, as the former prisoners enthusiastically smashed rocks in the Limestone Quarry, negating this once oppressive labor and transforming it into an affirmation of freedom. On ensuing days, the reunion celebrated and demanded support for the ex-prisoners and set Robben Island on the path to becoming the country’s first national peoples’ museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Drawing on oral histories and photographs, this article examines the museum’s process of becoming and its subsequent trajectory in the continuing struggle for liberation.

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