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Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria

pretoria art museumThe Pretoria Art Museum is an art gallery located in Arcadia, Pretoria. The museum in Arcadia Park occupies an entire city block bounded by Park, Wessels, Schoeman and Johann Streets.

The Pretoria Art Museum was established to house the City Council of Pretoria’s art collection, which was originally housed in the Pretoria City Hall. The collection had grown dramatically after a bequest by Lady Michaelis in 1932, which included many paintings by 17th century Dutch artists. South African works included pieces by Henk Pierneef, Pieter Wenning, Frans Oerder, Anton van Wouw and Irma Stern. The collection was originally housed in the Town Hall. As South African museums in Cape Town and Johannesburg already had good collections of 17th, 18th and 19th century European art, it was decided to focus on compiling a representative collection of South African art. Most of the Art Museum’s collection therefor consists of South African artists, concentrating on both traditional and contemporary art forms and techniques. The Pretoria Art Museum’s collection includes works of painting, sculpture, textiles, photographic art and many others.

The purchase of international work was focused more on affordable graphics prints from Europe and USA. More recently there was greater emphasis on contemporary South African art and building a more representative historical collection also traditional arts and new-media. After the death of the sculptor Lucas Sithole 1994, half of his unfinished work by Haenggi Foundation was donated to the museum after documented by art historian Elza Miles. The South African collection now includes work by Gerard Sekota and Judith Mason. Since the mid 1990s, the New Signatures competition is also held at the Pretoria Art Museum.

Construction on the current building – a long, flat, glass structure in the heart of Arcadia Park in Pretoria - was started in 1962 and inaugurated in 1964. Numerous upgrades and renovations have been undertaken, and the building now presents world-class exhibition halls.

The Information Centre at The Pretoria Art Museum is an invaluable source of information for people interested in, or researching the visual arts. Educators, students, learners and members of the public may use the vast collection of art reference books. Newspaper clippings on Southern African artists and art make the Pretoria Art Museum's Information Centre unique.

The Pretoria Art Museum should be visited often, since many temporary exhibitions are arranged annually and the permanent collection is often rearranged thematically. National and international traveling art exhibitions are also hosted. The art museum welcomes everyone, young and old to enjoy its facilities for purposes of study, education and enjoyment. The Information Centre within the art museum makes research material about art available to all visitors. A children’s gallery provides a fun and interactive learning area which introduces children to the basic concepts of art.

The Pretoria Art Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday each week.

History of Pretoria Art Museum
The Pretoria City Council in 1954 decided that a building was needed to house the art collection. The firm of architects Burg, Lodge and Burg and W.G. McIntosh and the builder J. Zylstra (Pty) Ltd was appointed. The curator of the Johannesburg Art Museum, Anton Hendriks in an advisory capacity, and the city clerk of Pretoria, Henry Preiss, was the driving force behind the project; in 1956 he was on holiday in Europe on tour, where he studied art museums studied.

Building began on 26 January 1962 and the cornerstone was laid on 19 October 1962 by the then Prime Minister Dr HF Verwoerd and the mayor of Pretoria, Councillor E. Smith. The building of concrete and glass was completed over 18 months at a cost of R400,000. The design in the modern International Style design and technical innovations feasible at that time were used. The museum was officially inaugurated on 20 May 1964 by the new mayor of Pretoria, Dr PJ van der Walt. The first curator of the new Pretoria Art Museum, Dr. Albert Werth, was appointed early in 1963 and until his retirement in 1991 was director of the art museum.

Additional exhibit space was created in 1975 with the creation of secretion of an open area between the entrance and the East Gallery. It was constructed in 1988 and again in 1999 upgraded. In the latter case in preparation for the international exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: scientist, inventor, artist. An image Garden is also on the stage to the museum added.


 

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