Art museums in South Africa preserve and share the country’s rich social and cultural history, as documented through its art. They are home to collections of work that range from San rock art, to early colonial art, struggle art and contemporary art from around the country.

Did you know?

More than 300 of the approximately 1000 museums in Africa are in South Africa.

There is a bustling art scene with many well-known historic and contemporary art works on display in South African art museums and galleries around the country. There are art museums in each of South Africa's nine provinces, with many important permanent art collections centred in the country's major cities.

The Western Cape is home to dozens of important South African art galleries, among them the South African National Gallery, which houses outstanding collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art.

The Michaelis Collection of Dutch and Flemish artworks and the Johans Borman Fine Art Gallery, which features a selection of works by South African masters as well as works by leading South African contemporary artists, are both worth a visit.

Gauteng has several important galleries too, ranging from the Pretoria Art Museum and the Unisa Gallery to the Johannesburg Art Gallery with its collection of Flemish and Dutch paintings, as well as works by Picasso, Pissarro, Monet and Degas. Its large South African collection continues to grow and features the work various South African artists.

In KwaZulu Natal, you can visit the Durban Art Gallery, home to artworks from Europe, the East and Africa, dating from the 15th century to the present. The Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg houses a collection of significant British and French artworks dating back to the 18th century. Its South African art collection is focused on, but not exclusive to, the art of KwaZulu-Natal.

In the Eastern Cape, you can visit the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Port Elizabeth. It houses a large collection of South African art, with a special focus on art from the Eastern Cape.

In Limpopo, the Polokwane Art Museum specialises in collecting work from the Limpopo province, including Venda and Pedi art. In the Northern Cape, you can visit the William Humphreys Art Gallery, home to collections of Flemish art from the 16th and 17th centuries, along with British and French paintings, South African art, ceramics and antique furniture.

Travel tips & Planning info

Around the area

Many small South African towns also have wonderful art galleries and museums, such as the Pierneef Gallery, the Walter Battiss Art Gallery and The Owl House, to name a few.

Tours to do

Most galleries offer guided tours of their current exhibitions by prior arrangement.

What's happening

Most of South Africa's art galleries and museums have rotating exhibitions from their permanent collections, as well as hosting temporary international and travelling exhibitions.

Best buys

Many small commercial galleries have South African art for sale at good prices.

Related articles