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IIf you want to discover the rich and vibrant South African culture and how local tastes in art have evolved over time, a trip to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in Eastern Cape province is an eye-opening experience.
The museum is home to an impressive collection, ranging from British and Asian art, to international printmaking and the art of Eastern Cape. Even Port Elizabeth’s St George’s Park, at the entrance to which you’ll find the museum, is a piece of art created by Mother Nature herself.
The limited exhibition space means that there is a constant rotation of artworks among the museum’s large, permanent collection, so there’s always something new to see at the gallery.
Highlights from the permanent collection includes works by renowned artists such as Henry Moore, David Hockney, Marc Chagall, Honore Daumier and Rembrandt van Rijn. Asia is represented by a selection of Indian miniatures, Japanese wood-block prints and Chinese items from the Qing dynasty.
This art gallery has also been collecting artworks by prominent South African artists for more than 50 years. The gallery’s recent contemporary acquisitions include works by some of South Africa’s top artists, like Berni Searle, Conrad Botes, Diane Victor and Nicholas Hlobo.
One of the most interesting parts of the museum’s collection is the art that comes from the local area, representing the spirit of Eastern Cape. Learn about the artistic history of the city and the province through some famous local artists, including Walter Battiss and George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba. The museum is also home to special exhibits like the award-winning Keiskamma Art Project, which is a rare treat.
The gallery has now been incorporated into the Arts Precinct of Nelson Mandela Bay (the metropolitan municipality that includes Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch), where you can stroll through many arts venues including Route 67, Athenauem, the Ron Belling Art Gallery and artEC.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum
Tel: +27 (0)41 506 2000
How to get here
The gallery is in central Port Elizabeth, easily accessible by car, taxi and bus.
Best time to visit
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum is open seven days a week, except 1 January, Good Friday, Freedom Day (27 April), Workers’ Day (1 May), Youth Day (16 June) and Christmas Day (25 December). Weekdays: 9am to 6pm (closed Tuesday mornings); Saturdays and Sundays: 1pm to 5pm; public holidays: 2pm to 5pm; first Sunday of the month: 9am to 2pm.
Around the area
The gallery is at the entrance to the famous and beautiful St George’s Park, a series of botanical vistas and recreational facilities which is worth a visit in its own right.
What will it cost?
Admission to the gallery is free, except for events with advertised fees.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Arts Journey will introduce you to all of Nelson Mandela Bay’s creative events.
The museum’s shop offers an interesting selection of books, catalogues, cards, gifts, posters, reproductions and other items.
- Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum
- The Keiskamma Trust
- Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism
- Arts Journey, Nelson Mandela Bay
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