Christiaan Barnard’s light still burns brightly …. but at Akademie Street!

When you visit award winning Akademie Street Hotel in Franschhoek make sure you wander inside our Orangerie and linger a while to appreciate our specially commissioned, 3 metre wide painting by a locally celebrated artist. It takes pride of place against the back wall of the Orangerie. One can easily appreciate the shere beauty of the painting, but if you don’t linger long enough you might just miss the most interesting aspect of all. It’s the way the painting is lit! For on the right hand side of the painting sits the very same operating theatre lamp used by Dr Christiaan Barnard in the world’s first ever heart transplant, exactly 50 years ago!

When our painting was installed we struggled to find lighting that would do the painting justiuce. That very same week, we had a chance encounter in an antique store in Capetown where we literally stumbled across the solution, two operating theatre lamps! But, as it turned out they were not just any theatre lamps but lamps that came from the operating theatre at Capetown’s Groote Schuur Hospital. On closer inspection is quickly came to light (“sorry for the pun”) that one of the lamps, an all white enamel lamp, with a rectangular block at the end of the main arm was in fact the very same lamp used by Barnbard in that famous operation in 1967. What a find!


For baby boomers and later generations this event might not be so well known, or indeed appreciated. So you might well be surprised to learn that it was, and still is the most publicised medical event of all time, making headlines in nearly every international newspaper, magazine and tabloid of its day.


Akademie Street is delighted to keep the history of that famous day in Capetown alive, through the refurbishment and continued use of the lamp to illuminate our function room, where weddings and other special events take place. It is in keeping with our quest to make each piece of furniture and collectable in our hotel truly unique and engaging.