Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe South African National Gallery
Lying in the Company's Garden, opposite the South African Museum on Government Avenue, the South African National Gallery houses some of the most beautiful collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art in South Africa.
Where? Government Avenue, Company's Garden, Cape Town Central
Call? +27 (0)21 481-3970
The National Gallery’s permanent collection, which includes art from the colonial to the contemporary, is regularly rotated so that there is a full programme of temporary exhibitions of paintings, photography, sculpture, architecture, beadwork, textiles and works on paper. These are supplemented with visiting exhibitions. The South African National Gallery’s only reserve is the lack of traditional pre-colonial work, because of under funding and the high prices of Western art.
At the same time, very little in the way of emerging art in South Africa during the 1980s was acquired while under apartheid, so the gallery has made an attempt to fill this gap in its collection.
Since 1990 it has worked to set up a collection that celebrates the expressive cultures of the African continent, and it now has a respected collection of beadwork and indigenous sculpture. The Bead Society of Southern Africa was launched at the gallery in 1999, motivated by a need for a society in the south of Africa - there is one in Ghana and others exist all over the world - particularly as beadwork is the main means of aesthetic expression of women in South Africa.
The South African National Gallery began with a presentation of some 45 paintings by Thomas Butterworth Bayley in 1871, and since then has grown to one of international stature with wonderful examples of South African, African and Western European art.