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SSouth Africa is home to many excellent art galleries in all nine provinces, but the award-winning new kid on the block in downtown Johannesburg is the Wits Art Museum, the leading museum of African art on the African continent. Make sure you don’t miss it when next you find yourself in that part of town.
In the heart of buzzing Braamfontein, in downtown Johannesburg, a stone’s throw away 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. All these areas are wheelchair-friendly too.
TThe 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.
Wits art museum, Johannesburg
SStop 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. It will transport you back in time.
If you have the 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 classes”.
When you need rest or refreshments, 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.
TThe 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.