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IIf you’re touring the Free State, the Oliewenhuis Art Museum in Bloemfontein is an absolute must. It’s situated in a striking neo-Cape Dutch building and features work by top South African artists and art exhibitions, all topped off with a superb restaurant and beautifully luscious gardens.
The Oliewenhuis Art Museum may be called a “museum”, but it's really an art experience – gallery, restaurants, gardens and all!
The best of South Africa’s non-contemporary and contemporary artists – from Pierneef to Kentridge – are exhibited here in the gallery on the downstairs level and also in the permanent collection upstairs. An additional gallery below ground level is known as “The Reservoir”.
TThe permanent collection includes outstanding examples of a wide variety of South African art, including an enticing outdoor sculpture park.
Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein
WWalkways through the magnificent gardens offer peace and relaxation with plenty of picnic spots, while excitement for the children takes the form of a working outdoor public art sculpture called The African Carousel. Several South African artists collectively worked on this piece that reflects the melting pot of European and African culture that is South Africa.
TThe neo-Dutch building that houses the museum is history in itself. Completed in 1941 as the residence for the governor general of the Union of South Africa at the time, in 1972 the building was officially named “The Oliewenhuis” (“Olive house”) in Afrikaans because of the abundance of wild olive trees growing on the surrounding hills. In 1985 it was officially transformed into an art museum. Several structural alterations needed to be made to provide a suitable environment for the conservation and exhibition of artworks, putting its official opening date in 1989.
If you’re an art lover, or just a lover of life, you’ll undoubtedly spend several hours here. Obviously, such amazement will help you work up an appetite. The good news is that an excellent restaurant called The Terrace offers delicious teas and meals to keep your hunger at bay, and your hunger for art strong.