Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein

Oliewenhuis Art Museum Image source

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is committed to collect, conserve and exhibit works of art which represent the heritage of South African art on behalf of and to the advantage and edification of the entire community. The Museum is a satellite of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Arts & Culture.
 
The permanent collection, which is frequently rearranged, is housed on the first floor and is devoted exclusively to works produced by South African artists. It has a solid foundation of early South African artists.
It is the only museum of its kind in the Free State and one of the youngest art museums in the country. Oliewenhuis was designed by William Mollison, Head Architect of the Department of Public Works and his assistant, John Stockwing Cleland in 1935. Completed in 1941, this mansion, located on Grant’s Hill, served as residence for the Governor General of the Union of South Africa from 1942.
 
In 1947, King George VI, his wife and two daughters used Oliewenhuis as residence during their three-day visit to Bloemfontein. After the establishment of the Republic of South Africa in 1961, Oliewenhuis became the official residence for the State Presidents of South Africa during official visits to Bloemfontein.
 
In 1972, the building was officially named Oliewenhuis, the name being derived from the abundance of wild olive trees growing on the surrounding hills.
 
On 19 July 1985, after prolonged campaigning by the art loving citizens of Bloemfontein for an art museum, former State President P.W. Botha released the residence to the National Museum for the purpose of converting it into an art museum. Several structural alterations and adjustments had to be made to the existing building to provide a suitable environment for the conservation and exhibition of artworks. On 11 October 1989, Oliewenhuis Art Museum was officially opened as a satellite of the National Museum. The Museum boasts up-to-date technology to store and exhibit artworks in ideal climatic and security conditions.
 

Last updated : 18-Apr-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 18-Apr-2019

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