Wits Art Museum, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
The Wits Art Museum (often referred to as WAM) is the eccentric brainchild of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg. Born in early 1950s from a small departmental teaching collection and initiated by Professor Heather Martienssen, Professor of Fine Arts and History of Art and Professor John Fassler, both of the Architecture Department, at Wits. In the late 1960s the Museum was fortunate enough to receive a substantial donation from Norman Herber, for further acquisition of artworks.
In 1978, the first classical African artworks were donated by Vittorio Meneghelli and the collection of African art was founded. In 1979, a large collection of over 100 works was donated by John Schlesinger, boosting the gallery to visitor worthy status.
One of the significant donors was Linda Givon (previous owner of the Goodman Gallery), whose generosity ensured that many of South Africa’s top artists are represented in the collection. Another was Robert Hodgins — the museum boasts Hodgins’s entire print archive. In the course of his career, Hodgins donated one of every editioned print he made, totaling about 300 works, making it a gem in the collection.
The museum is home to an extraordinary array of African art from all corners of the continent, both contemporary and historical. The eclectic mix of contemporary works with traditional African artifacts reflects the diversity of the 9 000-piece collection. . It is one of Johannesburg’s premier tourist attractions, along with the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill.
There is significant partnership between Standard Bank and the Gallery and a unique collection of art has been established as the Standard Bank African Art Collection. The collection is funded by an annual purchasing grant from Standard Bank. The collection contains over 5 000 objects from across the continent - unrivaled southern African holdings and substantial and important West and Central African collections. More recently, works from East Africa have been added.
WAM conforms to internationally accepted museum standards for storage and climate control. The collections are housed in extensive state of the art storage systems.
Located on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Jorissen Street in Braamfontein, the Wits Art Museum has a clean inviting appearance with its open glass-fronted facade which allows for views into the exhibition spaces from the street and makes a major contribution to the renaissance of the Braamfontein area.
Wits Art Museum, 1 Jan Smuts Avenue. Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
Tel: +27 (0)11 717 1000. Website
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