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Come celebrate Africa Day

Africa Day 2019

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a satellite of the National Museum in Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa. The Art Museum houses between 12 and 15 temporary exhibitions per annum. Every attempt is made to provide excellent exhibition space for artists to exhibit their work and to enrich the public’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our cultural heritage and to reflect the full diversity of South African art. The following exceptional exhibitions can be viewed:

Basotho Blankets Exhibition 

The anthropology collection of the National Museum, Bloemfontein houses a large collection of Basotho blankets. Most are part of the Robertson collection, on loan from Neil Robertson’s family. Neil Robertson was a third-generation tradesman in Basotho blankets, the grandson of Charles Hendry Robertson. 

What makes this collection of blankets unique is the time span over which it was collected. The collection includes a Sandringham mountain rug or Mohodu dating back to 1934, a Badges of the brave blanket honouring those who fought during World War II (1939-1945) as well as a Batho ba Roma blanket made to commemorate Pope John Paul’s visit to Lesotho in 1988. But certainly the most prestigious blanket in the collection is the Victoria England / Seanamarena or ‘chief’s blanket’. All of the above-mentioned blankets form part of the exhibition on display in the Annex gallery of the Art Museum.

Harmonia: Sacred Geometry, the pattern of existence by Gordon Froud

Gordon Froud, well-known curator, sculptor and Senior Lecturer in sculpture at University of Johannesburg presents a new body of work that investigates various aspects of sacred geometry in the

world around us. His cone virus sculptures (pointed polyhedra) on rooftops, in parks and on the streets, have become iconic in the cities and towns of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Stellenbosch and most recently in Richmond in the Eastern Cape. Having featured steel mesh geometric sculptures at Nirox Sculpture Park, Hermanus Fyn Arts festivals, Boschendal and Almenkerk wine estates, Froud has constructed a show that brings his research into focus for a monumental mid-career exhibition that was shown at the prestigious Standard Bank Gallery in Johannesburg. This show has since travelled to Cavalli Equestrian Estate Gallery in Somerset West, KKNK festival, Oudtshoorn and is now on show in the Reservoir at Oliewenhuis Art Museum until 23 June 2019. 

This extensive body of work (over 100 pieces) ranges from small-scale resin works to a monumental 6.5m high polyhedron made from 18 giant road cones – manufactured and sponsored by Sinvac Plastics in Pretoria.

TIMELESS – Between Matter & Spirit, a solo exhibition by artist Dr Esther Mahlangu

Africa’s diverse cultural heritage and dignity is uniquely celebrated by the work and life-long commitment of artist and global Ndebele cultural icon, Dr Esther Mahlangu. Art curator and writer, Beathur Mgoza Baker reflects on how: “Her life defies chronology and her talent, defies the conventions of the Western art as a truly African articulation of our collective cultural heritage”. In South Africa we embrace her as a national treasure, a wise elder and passionate, committed ambassador who has captivated the interest and imagination of the world with her gift, and her beautiful understanding of how art is central to our cultural identity as human beings. Even at the age of eighty three the iconic artist still continues producing work and creative interpretations of the sacred geometry and practices of Ndebele and African culture.

A selection of her artworks and heavily beaded blankets in celebration of the artist and Africa month is on show in the Main Building of the Art Museum.

Exploring the origins of the Oliewenhuis Art Museum and its founder collections

The Permanent Collection, which is frequently rearranged, is housed on the first floor and is devoted exclusively to works produced by South African artists. 

An important aspect of the formation of Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s Permanent Collection is the fact that the collection was built without any private or government funding. 

The founding collection was comprised of donations by the Bloemfontein Group and A.C White, together with artworks bought with funds generated by the Social Committee of the Friends of Oliewenhuis, under the guidance of Dora Scott. This is an indication that the collection was built from the initiative of devoted art enthusiasts and therefore, that the origins of Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s Permanent Collection are unique and reflects a cultural identity specific to the Free State. 

A variety of artworks selected from the Bloemfontein Group and the A.C White donations are on display in the Permanent Collection to narrate this important historical artistic time frame in the Free State. 


A small exhibition of outstanding female artists’ work from the Art Museum’s Permanent Collection to participate in the powerful campaign, #5WomenArtists powered by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, New York can also be viewed on the first floor.

The following pioneering female artists, Nandipha Mntambo, Nomusa Makhubu, Diane Victor, Mmakgabo Mmapula Helen Sebidi and Penny Siopis were selected to represent Oliewenhuis Art Museum in this campaign. They were selected in terms of extraordinary achievements in their careers regardless of age, race or background. They speak up and address contemporary debates, relating not only to South Africa, but also current issues globally. 

An article written by the Art Museum’s Education Officer, Yolanda de Kock which profiles these artists can be read online at www.nationalmuseumpublications.co.za/category/fine-arts/.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street, Bloemfontein and is open to the public from Monday to Friday between 08:00 and 17:00, and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays between 09:00 and 16:00. Entrance to the Art Museum is free of charge and safe parking is available. For more information please contact Oliewenhuis Art Museum on 051 011 0525 (ext 200) or oliewen@nasmus.co.za.

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Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a satellite of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture.

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