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Bloemfontein, South Africa

Oliewenhuis Art Museum

Permanent Exhibitions

New exhibition on show at Oliewenhuis Art Museum celebrates South Africa’s Journey to Democracy

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is proud to announce a new exhibition titled, 30 Years of Democracy: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Freedom in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Democracy in South Africa.

“Through this exhibition, we acknowledge and honour the artists whose works have contributed significantly to the growth of Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s Permanent Collection,” says Natley Barnardo, curator of the exhibition and Education Officer at Oliewenhuis Art Museum. “Their artistic expressions have not only enriched our collection but also reflected the cultural and artistic landscape of our country during this transformative period.”

This year marks three decades since South Africa participated in its first democratic voting process on 27 April 1994. It was a momentous occasion that forever changed the course of our nation’s history. As we observe Freedom Day and Freedom Month, our primary goal is to deepen our understanding of the past and the journey of our country. We aim to uncover valuable insights that will guide us towards meaningful advancements and help us confront the pressing issues we currently face.

Featuring a diverse range of artworks, generously donated and purchased over the past three decades, this exhibition showcases the talent and creativity of renowned artists such as Paul Emmanuel, Christo Doherty, Philippe Burger, Willie Bester, Alexis Preller, Feni Dumile (Mhalaba Zwelidumile Jeremiah Mgxaji), and Noria Mabasa. Their contributions have not only shaped our Permanent Collection but has also played a vital role in capturing the essence of our nation’s journey towards democracy.

“By delving into our shared history and embracing our differences, we aim to promote social cohesion, unity, and diversity as essential elements in our collective journey towards a brighter future. “It is through reflection on our shared history and embracing our differences that we can pave the way for a more inclusive and harmonious society,” adds Natley.

Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to explore the rich tapestry of South African art and gain valuable insights into the transformative period post-1994. The artworks on display not only serve as a testament to the resilience and creativity of our artists but also provide a platform for dialogue and reflection on our nation’s progress.

“Through this exhibition, we hope to inspire meaningful advancements and address the pressing issues we currently face,” says Natley. “By uncovering the valuable insights from our past, we can confront the obstacles that lie in our path and work towards a more prosperous future.”

The exhibition is on show from 27 April 2024 and can be viewed in the display areas on the first floor.

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is located at 16 Harry Smith Street in Bloemfontein. It is open to the public from Monday to Friday, operating hours are from 08:00 to 17:00. On Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, the museum is open from 09:00 to 16:00. Admission is free, and there is secure parking available for visitors at a cost of R10 per car, payable in cash. There is a wheel-chair accessible ramp at the main entrance and the first floor can be accessed via a lift.

To obtain further details regarding the exhibition, kindly get in touch with the Museum via phone at 078 968 4300 or email at education@nasmus.co.za.

Threads of Visual Narratives: Traditional Artistry, Contemporary Art and National Heritage

Dates: 25 May 2023 – 3 December 2023

Venue: Oliewenhuis Art Museum (1st floor of Main Building)

An inter-disciplinary display of collected heritage items of the National Museum, Bloemfontein and one of its satellites, Oliewenhuis Art Museum.

The Power of Representation

Venue: Oliewenhuis Art Museum (1st floor of Main Building)

In aligning with the International Museum day theme, “The power of Museums”, Oliewenhuis Art Museum curated this exhibition in the permanent exhibition space in the Main Building. This exhibition is a visual fest and the entire Permanent Collection was re-curated. This exhibition explores the power of art, how it communicates and the power of representation through (among other ways) juxtaposing older artworks in the collection with newer contemporary artworks.

5 Women Artists

#5WomenArtists Campaign

Dates: from 8 March 2019

Venue: Oliewenhuis Art Museum (Main Building)

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a satellite of the National Museum in Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa. We proudly present outstanding female artists’ work from our Permanent Collection to participate in the powerful campaign, #5WomenArtists powered by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, New York.

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.

Come and view these artists’ work in the Main Building at Oliewenhuis Art Museum from 8 March 2019.

National Museum Publications – Fine Arts

The campaign will also run via the following Oliewenhuis Art Museum Social Media pages.





“Wa Thinta Abafazi, Wa Thinta Imbokodo”

You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock

An exhibition celebrating Women’s Day

08 August – 01 October 2017

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is celebrating Women’s Month with a special exhibition on the First Floor of the Main Building titled “Wa Thinta Abafazi, Wa Thinta Imbokodo”, You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock. 

This appropriate exhibition showcases some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists representing Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s prestigious Permanent Collection. The two female curators, Tshegofatso Seoka and Yolanda de Kock, specifically chose the works of Bambo Sibiya, Justin Dingwall, Gerrit Hattingh, Majak Bredell, Norman Catherine, Maggie Laubser and Diane Victor. 

Although not all the artists in this exhibition are female, the conceptual status of the art on the walls depicts concerns and topics directly related to femininity, womanliness, gender relations and cultural identity.  The variety of the works dealing with these topics dates from the 1950’s, such as that of Maggie Laubser, to our most recent contemporaries like Justin Dingwall and Bambo Sibiya, and makes this exhibition visually exciting and cutting-edge. 

Come and view this extraordinary exhibition on the First Floor of the Main Building at Oliewenhuis Art Museum. The exhibition will be on view from 9 August until 1 October 2017.

Entrance to the museum is free of charge. Operating hours are Monday to Friday 8:00-17:00 and Saturday to Sunday 9:00-16:00. You are also welcome to book a free Guided Tour presented by the curators. For more information please contact Oliewenhuis Art Museum at 051 011 0525 (ext 200) or oliewen@nasmus.co.za

Range of styles

A selection of artworks from the Permanent Collection exhibited on the first floor of the Main Building showcases a diverse range of styles and media.  The Permanent Collection is devoted exclusively to works produced by South African artists and has a solid foundation of early South African artists, including works by Thomas Baines, J.E.A Volschenk, J.H. Pierneef and W.H. Coetzer. The Museum continues expanding its collection of works by contemporary South African artists.

A contemporary highlight is Willem Boshoff’s Blind Alphabet A, an attraction for sight-impaired visitors that comprises 94 descriptive shapes, with Braille essays; the sculpted pieces are small enough to be picked up and handled by sight-impaired visitors.

A considerable number of works have been acquired through donations and bequests; outstanding among these is a collection of works from the City Council of Bloemfontein.  This collection, which was ceded to Oliewenhuis Art Museum at its inception in 1989, together with artworks from the National Museum’s Permanent Collection, formed the basis of the Permanent Collection.

During 2006, Oliewenhuis Art Museum received a donation from The Haenggi Foundation Incorporated (Basel, Switzerland), comprising 295 artworks produced by South African artists between 1970 and 1990. In 2009 Oliewenhuis received an additional donation consisting of 51 works from Haenggi’s personal collection and four works from the Pelmama Permanent Collection.  These donations represent significant additions to the Art Museum’s collection. The generosity of The Haenggi Foundation Inc. and the financial backing and cooperation of the Department of Arts and Culture made this successful repatriation project possible.

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