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The Michaelis Collection of the Old Town House


This Cape Town museum is known as the very first art museum in the mothercity. In 1914 the Old Town House opened its doors to the public as art museum housing the Michaelis Collection which consisted out of early Netherlandish art.

The Michaelis Collection of the Old Town House also form part of the Iziko family and shares some unique history of Cape Town.

The Michaelis Collection of the old town house

When is The Michaelis Collection of the Old Town House open?

Open | Mon-Sat 10h00-17h00
Closed | Sun, 01/05, 25/12

Contact | 021 481 3933021 481 3933

Where is The Michaelis Collection of the Old Town House?

The Old Town House is situated in the popular Green Market Square, CBD.

What is The Michaelis Collection?

The Michaelis Collection consists out of a selection of Netherlandish art. Works include those of Anthony van Dyck, Jacob van Ruisdael, Frans Hals and Jan Steen whom all form part of the 17th century golden age.


Why is it named “The Michaelis Collection”?

Sir Max Michaelis was the donator of The Michaelis Collection. Lady Florence Phillips encouraged British art collector Sir Hugh Lane to build the collection, and this same lady was responsible for finding Sir Max Michaelis who was prepared to buy the collection and donate it to South Africa.

Does “The Michealis Collection” have anything to do with the Michaelis School of Fine Art?

Yes. Sir Max Michaelis plays a large role in the history of Cape Town. Michaelis was a generous man and was responsible for supporting many institutions including libraries and a hospital.


Why is the Old Town House significant?

The early Cape Dutch building with Cape Rococo style was one of the first double-story structures to be built in Cape Town between 1755-1761.

The now Cape Town museum was the city’s first public building and served as a magistrate court, seat of the Burgher Watch, police station and City Hall.

How did it come to house the Michaelis Collection?

Cape Town’s new City Hall at the Grand Parade was completed in 1905 after which the Old Town House was chosen as the appropriate place to open Cape Town’s first art museum in 1914.


Are there any other exhibitions in the Cape Town museum?

Yes. Apart from the permanent Dutch and Flemish artists, there are various temporary exhibitions that make their way to the Old Town House.

More uses for the Old Town House today include:
  • Exhibition openings
  • Lectures
  • Chamber-music concerts
  • Cultural activities
  • Corporate functions
  • Film Shoots
  • Wedding Photographs


Content: Ed Beukes


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