Situated on Government Avenue in the Company’s Garden, the South African National Gallery houses a renowned permanent collection of art ranging from the early colonial period to contemporary work. Exhibitions are regularly rotated and there’s a full programme of paintings, graphic work, photography, sculpture, architecture and beadwork.
The permanent collection includes work by African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish artists. It includes some of South Africa’s most seminal works, such as Jane Alexander’s ‘Butcher Boys’ sculpture. All of our country’s top artists are represented, including Willem Boshoff, Marlene Dumas, William Kentridge, Gerard Sekoto, Penny Siopis and Irma Stern.
Since 1990, the gallery has strived for an inclusive collection that celebrates African cultures, and it now houses a highly respected collection of beadwork and indigenous sculpture.
📍: Government Avenue, Company’s Garden
⏰: 10:00–14:30 Tues-Sun (closed Mon)
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz Mocaa) is the largest gallery of contemporary African art in the world. This public, not-for-profit institution exhibits, collects, preserves and researches contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. The museum has a dedicated space for its permanent collection but also features rotating, temporary exhibitions.
Zeitz Mocaa is housed in the V&A Waterfront’s old Grain Silo complex, an innovative conversion designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick. The art collection is the brainchild of German businessman Jochen Zeitz, who wanted to build a world-class body of contemporary African expression. Award-winning artists featured in the collection include the likes of Mary Sibande, Frances Goodman, Kendell Geers and William Kentridge.
Apart from the artworks and spellbinding Silo design, there’s also a bookshop, restaurant, reading rooms and rooftop sculpture garden.
📍: V&A Waterfront Silo District
⏰: 10:00–18:00 Thurs-Sun
This elegant, contemporary art museum and sculpture garden is situated in the beautiful natural environment of Steenberg Estate. The foundation has nine gallery spaces and is dedicated to the research, education and exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century art from South Africa and beyond. Its exhibitions rotate regularly, so there’s always new work on show.
Assembled by the Norval family over the past two decades, the Homestead Art Collection includes holdings by artists such as Peter Clarke, Sydney Kumalo, Maggie Laubser, John Muafangejo, George Pemba, Cecil Skotnes, Anton van Wouw and Irma Stern. The foundation is also custodian of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection and the Alexis Preller Archive.
Apart from the gallery, there’s a wetland sculpture garden, the Skotnes Restaurant, a bar and museum shop, offering an experience for the whole family (including a play area for children, and kids’ art workshops).
📍: Steenberg Estate
⏰: 10:00–18:00 Wed-Mon (closed Tues)
This charming museum occupies the original home of the famous South African artist (1894–1966). Apart from her paintings, the museum is full of artefacts Stern collected on her numerous trips to Europe and into Africa. Several rooms are still furnished as she left them, while upstairs there’s a commercial art gallery. The permanent collection shows Stern’s development as an artist whose subject matter included exotic figures, portraits, landscapes and still lifes produced in a variety of media.
Most notable among her collected artefacts is the Buli stool, one of only 20 items attributed to the famous atelier of the Master of Buli, a village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The stool sits in a glass cabinet and is the centrepiece of the Congo Room, whose walls are hung with gouaches and oils produced by the artist on her African journeys.
‼️TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19‼️
📍: 21 Cecil Road, Rosebank
⏰: 10:00–17:00 Tues-Fri & 10:00-14:00 Sat
On the first Thursday of every month, arts and culture in Cape Town has a late night and lets its hair down, with dozens of galleries staying open and the hosting of cultural events showcasing the Mother City’s talent. First Thursdays has no structured route or schedule and you’re free to wander at your own pace. (Collect a map from one of the participating galleries if you want to plan ahead.)
This is more than just an evening of art. The galleries are certainly the main draw card, but as the sun sets on the city, bars and restaurants join in and locals spill out onto the streets, creating a vibrant atmosphere. First Thursdays spreads throughout the city, but most of the galleries are in Church and Bree Streets, with a run over into Long and Loop Streets.
📍: Central city, focused around Church Street
⏰: First Thursday evening of the month
🎫: Free entrance
Woodstock street art
Lower Woodstock is one of the best places to view local street art and there’s a particularly rich vein of murals running between Victoria and Albert Roads and Barron and Essex Streets. The Woodstock Exchange (66 Albert Road), Woodstock Foundry (150 Albert Road) and Side Street Studios (48 Albert Road) are particular hotspots.
Look out for work by DALeast, a prominent Chinese-born artist who moved to Cape Town. His distinctive 3D paintings of monochrome animals look as though they’re made of wire. From the UK, Masai is another well-known urban artist with wildlife paintings in Woodstock. His work is concerned with raising awareness about critically endangered species. A particularly eye-catching work is the zebra-suit painting by Ukrainian artist AEC Interesni Kaski on the corner of Church and Wright Streets.
Not all the art features animals and there’s plenty of variety in style and subject matter, as well as a plethora of social commentary.