Since the Tatham Art Gallery’s inception in 1903, various bequests, donations and shrewd purchases have helped its collection grow. Today it includes works from the 18th and 19th century, as well as traditional and contemporary South African art from the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Did you know?

The Tatham Art Gallery is housed in the old Supreme Court Building, dating back to 1875.

Situated in Pietermaritzburg, this KwaZulu-Natal art gallery has had more than 100 years to work on its collection of regional and international art.

Established by Ada Tatham in 1903, the core of the Tatham Art Gallery's collection initially came from a donation by Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Whitwell. By 1926, he had given over 400 items to the gallery. These included significant 18th century British and French artworks, post-Victorian British paintings, Lalique glass, oriental carpets and examples of work from the Barbizon School. Known as the Whitwell Collection, it also included objets d’art from Japan, China, Russia and Persia.

Over the years, additional donations and purchases have added to this Pietermaritzburg art gallery's collection, moving away from accumulating colonial art towards more diverse forms of South African art, especially work from KwaZulu-Natal.

These include sets of prints by students from the Rorke’s Drift Art School, known as the Johansson Collection, domestic ceramic pieces from South Africa’s first commercial ceramic studios, known as the Millin Collection, and the Lorna Peirson Collection of work by students from the Ndaleni Art School in Richmond.

The gallery permanently exhibits a range of art. Upstairs you will find pieces by South African and European artists, while downstairs houses work by local KwaZulu-Natal artists. There are also many works on display in the gallery’s main stairwell. Of particular interest are pieces created by Sickert, Wilson Steer, Boudin and Sisley and a number of South African pieces, such as sculptures by Mandlenkosi Zondi. You can also view a variety of traditional crafts, as well as a rare documented Zulu love letter.

As well as sharing its collection with the public, the Tatham Art Gallery continues to support local artists. Its main exhibition room downstairs is used to host annual exhibitions by South African artists. These include solo shows, group exhibitions and travelling exhibitions. There is also a ceramics room and the Schreiner Gallery, a smaller exhibition space for temporary exhibits.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The Tatham Art Gallery
Tel: +27 (0)33 392 2800/1

How to get here

The gallery is situated on Chief Albert Luthuli Road, opposite the City Hall.

Best time to visit

The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. It is closed on Mondays, Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill, New Year's Day, Good Friday and Worker's Day.

What will it cost

Admission is free.

What to eat

The gallery’s coffee shop offers tea, coffee and light meals.

What's happening

The gallery has a dynamic exhibition programme as well as various educational and cultural events throughout the year. Visit their website for more detail.

Best buys

The gallery shop stocks sought-after woven baskets from Hlabisa and some fine Zulu ceramics.