The Michaelis Collection
Did you know?
Sir Maxmilian Michaelis was knighted after presenting his art collection to South Africa.
The Michaelis Collection of Dutch and Flemish paintings is one of the most significant of its kind outside of Europe and America. The collection is housed in Cape Town's historic Old Town House.
This Cape Town Art Gallery features works by Dutch masters such as Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jan van Goyen, Pieter de Hoogh, Abraham van Beyeren and Willem van Aelst, as well as Flemish artists such as Anthony van Dyck, David Teniers, Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Frans Snijders.
There are 68 paintings in the collection that range from portraits to still-life paintings and from furniture to church interiors.
The collection was given to South Africa by Sir Max Michaelis in 1914. The original Max Michaelis Gift was augmented in the later years by a smaller collection presented by Lady Michaelis, and by a number of subsequent acquisitions, including the Henry van den Bergh Bequest of nineteenth-century Dutch art received via the National Art Collections Fund (NACF) of Great Britain in 1948.
While this Iziko art museum's key attraction is Dutch Art, the Old Town House is also used for a range of temporary exhibitions that relate to the Netherlands 350-year-old cultural legacy in South Africa. Past temporary showings have included a video recreation of a 17th century Dutch painted portrait, contemporary Dutch-inspired still-life paintings, and beadwork.
The Old Town House is an artefact in its own right. Its is an early Cape Dutch building and dates from 1755. The Cape-silver trowel with which its first stone was laid by Baerendt Artois, member of the Court of Justice, is still on view in the museum.
The role played by building and collection in the cultural life of the Mother City is enhanced by its prominent position right in its historical centre on Greenmarket Square.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Iziko Museums of Cape Town
The Michaelis Collection
Tel: +27 (0)21 481 3933
How to get here
The collection is in the Old Town House, in Greenmarket Square, Cape Town.
Best time to visit
The Michaelis Collection can be viewed from Monday to Friday, 10am and 5pm and on Saturday between10am and 4pm. It is closed on Sundays, Workers Day and Christmas Day.
Around the area
The Old Town House is presently undergoing renovations to improve disabled access, and certain areas will be inaccessible while this long-awaited work is in progress.
What to eat
Visitors to the museum can have a cup of coffee or enjoy traditional Cape cuisine in-between viewing the renowned Michaelis Collection at the Ivy Garden Restaurant.
After-hours, the Old Town Hall is a popular venue for chamber-music concerts and lectures on a variety of cultural topics. There are also temporary exhibitions hosted by the museum that change on a regular basis.