The establishment of the museum came about through a confluence of factors. The V&A Waterfront recognised the significance of its Grain Silo complex as an historic landmark and for years debated possible uses. An art museum was eventually decided upon but a collection was needed. The desire was to house something of public civic significance, and something open to the public.
It was through Ravi Naidoo that Thomas Heatherwick was introduced to the Grain Silo complex in 2006, and again in 2011. At the same time, Jochen Zeitz was working with curator Mark Coetzee to build a world class collection of contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora with the vision to create the first major museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora on the Africa Continent.
The meeting of these two visions resulted in the creation of the not-for-profit public institution since named Zeitz MOCAA.