Did you know?
The Wits Art Museum has an impressive collection – it is home to more than 9000 artworks.
In the heart of buzzing Braamfontein in downtown Johannesburg, a stone’s throw from the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge, you’ll find South Africa’s newest art museum, the Wits Art Museum, where huge glass windows show off changing displays of its classical, modern and contemporary African artworks from all over the continent.
Inside, you can step into any of the different galleries – try the Gertrude Posel Core Galley (she was the inspiration behind the original collection), and then walk up the sweeping ramp (shades of the Guggenheim) to the gracious Mezzanine Gallery, before descending the elegant stairs to the Strip and the Basement galleries. By the way, everywhere is wheelchair-friendly.
The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) next door has been building this world-class collection since the late 1920s, and what you’ll see are unrivalled South African works, as well as fascinating and important collections from West Africa and Central Africa.
Stop to admire old maps, artefacts from South African mines, masks and ceremonial ritual objects from ancient peoples, photographs, paintings, tapestries, sculptures, paintings, etchings and drawings.
If you’ve time, attend a lecture, film screening, music event or art performance; or take one of the regular weekend ‘walkabouts’, each individually geared to adults, children and families. You can even practise your skills at the monthly ‘Drop-in drawing class'.
When you need rest or refreshment, pop into the WAM café and watch the world go by as you munch freshly cooked and baked goodies and sip your coffee or cold drink.
The museum attracts locals as well as international visitors – it’s easy to get here and it’s one of the stops of the red open-top City Sightseeing bus. Wits Art Museum has up to eight or 10 fascinating temporary exhibitions a year, so there’s always something new and exciting going on, as well as artworks from the permanent exhibition always on display.
You’ll soon discover why it is the leading museum of African art on the African continent.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Wits Art Museum
Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1365
How to get here
By car, by Rea Vaya bus (Turquoise route), by Gautrain to Park Station.
Best time to visit
Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm.
Around the area
Braamfontein and Newtown abound with sites of historical and cultural interest, including the Market Theatre, Mary Fitzgerald Square, Museum Africa, Constitutional Hill and the Johannesburg Theatre Complex.
Tours to do
The Johannesburg City Sightseeing Bus has 12 stops, including the Wits Art Museum, and is the best way to see the city’s main attractions.
On foot. The museum is also wheelchair- and guide dog-friendly.
What will it cost
Entry is free.
What to pack
Where to stay
The Hotel Lamunu in nearby De Korte Street is a convenient and comfortable base from which to explore the area.
What to eat
Good food in the WAM Café; or try the food at Café de la Vie, 6 De Beer Street, a bistro in one of the quarter’s rare original Victorian buildings.
Braamfontein is home to a number of attractions, including the popular Neighbourgoods Market every Saturday; the many design shops and galleries of 70 Juta; the Wits Origins Centre; and Constitution Hill.
Catalogues of past exhibitions.