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Pretoria Art Museum

Postal address:
PO Box 40925 Arcadia Pretoria 0007
Street address:
cnr Schoeman and Wessels Streets, Arcadia Park

Area: Arcadia
City: Pretoria
Province: Gauteng
Postal code: 0007
Country: South Africa

Phone: 012 3441807
Fax: 012 3441809


“Inspired by change”

The Pretoria Art Museum came into being in order to house the City Councils growing art collection which had been built up since the early nineteen-thirties. Originally the collection was housed in the City Hall and consisted mainly of the Michaelis Bequest and a small collection of artworks by South African artists. The bequest by Lady Michaelis in 1932, after her husband Sir Max Michaelis’ death, comprised mainly paintings from 17th century Dutch and Flemish artists.

When, in 1955, Pretoria celebrated its Centenary, one of the plans arising from the occasion was the decision to build a permanent art museum. The outcome was one of the most attractive and most modern museums in South Africa. The first sod was turned in Arcadia Park on 26 January 1962 and the foundation stones were laid on 19 October 1962. The Pretoria Art Museum, inaugurated in May 1964, is the city’s only fine arts museum.

The building is a low-slung glass and concrete edifice, incorporating modernist planning ideas with technical innovations feasible at the time. It is a fine example of the International Style in architecture. Additional space was created in 1975 with the closing of the open area with colonnades between the main entrance and the East Gallery. A major upgrading was undertaken in 1988 and again in 1999. At the same time the atrium was created next to the new reference library with access from the North Gallery and, adjacent, a sculpture garden that is visible from the atrium and from the west elevation. The Galleries are spacious and flexible: the basic, uninterrupted wall-surfaces are convertible into smaller units with the use of screens.

As the other South African art museums had already assembled a few fine examples of 17th, 18th and 19th century European art, it was decided to concentrate on establishing a representative collection of South African art. To represent international art, attention would be given to the acquisition of graphic printmaking from Europe and the USA. In this way the contact between art from abroad and South African art would be reflected in the collection.

Contact with international art movements must be kept to be able to grasp all the stages of the development of South African art. As continually rising prices on the art market hamper the acquisition of oil paintings or sculptures by famous artists, the Pretoria Art Museum has, wherever possible, acquired graphic works by a number of famous international artists. South African art, however, remains the main focus. Early acquisitions seem to concentrate on major traditional South African artists, but more recently the scope has broadened to include young contemporary artists and new techniques. The Pretoria Art Museum aims to reflect the art historical diversity of South Africa. The Museum has thus since been giving more attention to contemporary developments in Southern African art, including urban and rural art, as well as traditional art and new media and techniques.

The permanent collection of some 5 000 art works comprises South African drawings, watercolours, original prints, oil paintings, ceramics, traditional beadwork, photographs, textiles, installation / conceptual art, sculpture in bronze, metal or wood; also international prints and 17th century Dutch and Flemish paintings. The museum also recognises the influence of traditional or “classical” African art, and has collected pieces from West and Central Africa.

What you see when walking through the Museum during one visit is only the tip of the iceberg. Various temporary exhibitions and thematic groupings from the permanent collection are compiled every year to allow visitors to view various aspects of creativity and a large variety of artists and art works. The Pretoria Art Museum also hosts national and international travelling art exhibitions, so there is always something new to see. The Museum complies with the definition of museums as set down by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) by being a “non-profit making permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for the purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of man and his environment”. International museum ethics are being adhered to and democratic principles are strived after with the help of inter alia a representative Museums Advisory Committee, collaborators from a variety of organisations and the Association of Friends of the Pretoria Art Museum.

As a non-profit making public art museum in service of society and its development, the Pretoria Art Museum’s aims are to acquire the finest examples of mainly South African art and conserve this growing permanent collection according to international museological standards. The Museum stands for the development and management in an innovative manner of art historical resources to the benefit of the whole community. The Pretoria Art Museum propagates the conserving, development and promotion of Southern African art, always striving to promote visual literacy and to make exhibitions more accessible by means of educational programs and information. The educational role of a museum is at the core of its service to the community. The Museum offers guided tours, workshops and involves all the art forms in its various activities. This includes the involvement of the community and to foster a general appreciation of the Museum’s art historical resources and to thus enrich quality of life.

The Pretoria Art Museum develops and manages the art historical resources of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality in an innovative manner to the benefit of the whole community as well as local and international visitors. The Pretoria Art Museum serves the whole of Tshwane that includes among others: Akasia, Atteridgeville, Centurion, Klipkruisfontein, Krokodilrivier, Mabopane, Mamelodi, Pretoria, Soshanguve and Temba.

A small compliment of full-time staff members are supported by the voluntary Association of Friends of the Pretoria Art Museum. The Friends was founded in 1967 to give financial and moral support to this important institution of Tshwane. The Friends strive to purchase works of art to enhance its collections and to stimulate interest in its activities in general. The Friends aim to achieve this by raising funds and presenting functions, lectures, film shows, excursions, workshops and tours of exhibitions at the Pretoria Art Museum for members. Privileges of members include invitations to openings of art exhibitions. Members receive free entrance to the Museum and notices of all activities and Friends’ functions.

You can relax in the Museum’s coffee shop, Chai-Kofski’s, and enjoy something to eat and drink in artistic surroundings. Tea, coffee, assorted cakes and light lunches are all freshly prepared on the premises.


Category: Museum
Keywords: Art
Ref ID: 76

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Pretoria Art Museum

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