Initially established to house the large art collection of the city council of Pretoria, the building was constructed over an eighteen month period and inaugurated in May of 1964. Designed in the modern international style of the time, consisting mainly of concrete and glass, the gallery and museum’s grounds occupies an entire city block in the suburb of Arcadia. Over the next several decades, various amendments and upgrades were made to the building and museum to ensure additional exhibition space.
Currently having a collection of over three-thousand pieces on display, the Pretoria Art Museum prides itself on being a gallery and museum of world renown with a special focus on South Africa. Their collection houses works by renowned local masters such as Anton Van Wouw, Maggie Laubser, Frans Oerder, Irma Stern and Henk Pierneef. The growing contemporary side of their collection features pieces by artists like Walter Oltmann, Lucas Sithole, Gerard Sekoto, Sam Nhlengethwa and Judith Mason. The museum and gallery also hosts regular temporary exhibitions offering up work by both local and international artists.
The museum has stated their mission as being: “Collecting, documenting and conserving outstanding examples of mainly South African art; researching and compiling exhibitions from the permanent collection; hosting major national and international travelling exhibitions, supplemented by educational activities”.
The gallery also has a wonderfully unique information centre ideal for die-hard fans, students, educators or other members of the public to research and study the visual arts. The information centre holds a vast selection of art reference books, newspaper clippings on South African art and artists. Their hour-long guided tours on South African art are also available upon request from Tuesday to Friday between 10:00 and 13:00.
The museum operates, and is open to the public, from Tuesday to Sunday between 10:00 and 17:00. Admission runs at the measly R25 for adults, R12 for pensioners and R7 for learners. This should be the first stop for any art-lover in P-town.
by David C. Steyn