11 Must-See Cape Town Art Museums and Galleries (for-not-profit and commercial)
Keen to explore Cape Town’s art culture but don’t know where to begin? A visit to some of the city’s most prominent art galleries is a great way to start. Take a look at our list of some of Cape Town’s best art galleries.
IZIKO SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ART GALLERY
South Africa’s first art museum, the Iziko South African National Gallery began in 1871, with its nascent collection comprising of only 45 paintings. With old-fashioned high ceilings, wooden floors and old-school architecture, visitors experience a portal to South African history. With a broad selection of the country’s historical collection, the national gallery offers more scholarly projects to take part in behind the scenes. Offering a plethora of artistic practices including exhibitions of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, beadwork, textiles, and architecture, Iziko Museums is ideal for the culturally curious art lover looking to gain insight into the extraordinary range of creativity from this country, the African continent and abroad
Address: Government Avenue, Company’s Garden, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 481 3970
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
Admission fee: R30 Adult | R15 kids 6 – 18 years | R15 SA students and pensioners
Needing no introduction, the celebrated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is South Africa’s newest art museum. The public, not-for-profit contemporary art museum opened in September 2017 and quickly became one of Cape Town’s biggest attractions.
The art museum serves to collect, preserve, research, and exhibit twenty-first-century contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora. The Zeitz MOCAA features film installations, photography, and paintings in over one hundred galleries, spread over nine floors, encompassed in jaw-dropping architecture. If you’re looking for African contemporary art post-millennium this is the place – it is the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world.
Address: Silo District, S Arm Rd, Waterfront, Cape Town
Telephone: 087 350 4777
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 10 am – 6pm | Tuesdays closed
Admission: R 180 per adult | Under 18s free upon presentation of a valid ID | R 90 every first Friday of the month
THE AVA GALLERY
A gem located in the heart of Cape Town, the Association for Visual Arts (AVA) is South Africa’s oldest not-for-profit gallery and the ideal or discovering emerging artists.
A panel of artists and art historians carefully select works to exhibit and promotes contemporary visual art production through regular exhibitions showcasing all media by established and emerging artists. From paintings to ceramics, photography, installations, and performance, AVA Gallery strives for the advancement of South African contemporary art and artists.
Address: 35 Church Street, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 424 7436
Opening hours: Tuesday – Thursday 10am – 5pm | Saturday 10am – 1pm | Sunday – Monday closed
STEVENSON Gallery is Cape Town’s Kunsthaus Zürich, or for me, Whitecapel in London where I worked many years ago.
With exhibitions at Frieze Art Fair and other prominent art fairs around the world, STEVENSON presents solo and group exhibitions that promote contemporary art from South Africa as well as the rest of Africa. If you can’t face all the galleries at Zeitz MOCAA or paying the entrance fee, this is a worthy alternative. The gallery also boasts an active publication programme that publishes catalogues for many of its exhibitions and artists.
Address: STEVENSON Cape Town, Buchanan Building, 160 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock
Telephone: 021 462 1500
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm | Saturday 10am – 1pm |
Admission fee: Free
SMAC CAPE TOWN
The gallery with the great name, SMAC (Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary) consists of a dynamic programme of exhibitions. With curatorial and collaborative projects with local and international artists, SMAC gallery is excellent for those looking to buy top-tier art at a manageable price. The gallery also presents large-scale historical exhibitions and projects that offer a critical re-evaluation of South African art history.
Address: 1st Floor, The Palms, 145 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock
Telephone: 021 461 1029
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm Saturday 10am – 3pm
Admission fee: Free
Established in Johannesburg, 1966, Goodman Gallery is South Africa’s first contemporary art gallery of note. Working with Southern Africa’s most significant artists, including William Kentridge, Sue Williamson, and David Goldblatt the gallery strives to shift perspectives and foster social transformation by engaging artists from the greater African continent, as well as international artists who engage in a dialogue with the African context.
Address: 3rd Floor, Fairweather House,176 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 462 7573/4
Opening Hours: Tuesday–Friday 9:30am – 5:30pm | Saturday 9:30am–4:00 | Monday closed
Blank Projects is an artist-run gallery and project space that engenders the promotion of new developments and innovative ideas in the context of contemporary art in Africa.
Founded in 2005, the gallery offers experimental art practices by emerging and established artists. Apart from organising monthly exhibitions, Blank Projects is a venue for artist talks and events and also offers a residency program for visiting artists. It is the birthplace of many emerging artists, some of whom are now mid-career and whose works are exhibited at the Zeitz MOCAA and at New York Art Fairs.
Sidenote: If you want a good place for the best salad in town, stop by The Kitchen on Woodstock’s the main road – they have expanded into Blank’s former gallery.
Address: 10 Lewin Street, Woodstock, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 462 4276
Opening hours: Monday closed | Tuesday – Friday 9am – 5pm | Saturday 10am – 1pm
Admission fee: Free
WHATIFTHWORLD is the home of a group of young contemporary Southern African artists. Although relatively new, WHATIFTHEWORLD is artistically on par with their Woodstock counterparts. If you are particularly interested in film, this is your place. With an inward look at their social and personal identities, these young artists approach protest conceptualism with materiality and humour. The gallery is situated in a decommissioned synagogue in Woodstock, a stone’s throw away from amazing coffee shops.
Address: 1 Argyle Street, Woodstock, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 447 2376
Opening hours: Mondays closed | Tuesday – Friday 9:30am – 5pm | Saturday 9:30am – 2pm
Admission fee: Free
SOUTHERN GUILD GALLERY
The best high-end design shop in town, Southern Guild is the only gallery that represents locally made collectible designs in South Africa. Representing an extensive variety of top African designers – some delightfully quirky, such as Porky Hefer, and others more classic and uniquely African. Southern Guild holds regular exhibitions of contemporary furniture, lighting, art, and jewellery that have redefined perceptions of African design. Spoil yourself at the Vitra section where you can buy more affordable home products.
Address: Shop 5B, Silo 5, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 461 2856
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm | Saturday 10am – 2pm | Sunday closed
EVERARD READ/CIRCA GALLERY
Originally founded in Johannesburg in 1913, Everard Read is South Africa’s oldest commercial gallery, with galleries in Cape Town, Joburg and London.. With a focus on contemporary paintings and sculptures, the gallery’s exhibitions are often accompanied by print publications and serve to showcase established contemporary artists as well as the emerging younger generations from Africa, the United Kingdom, Europe, Japan and the USA. Their Joburg counterpart, the Circa gallery is an architectural must-see.
Address: 3 Portswood Rd, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Telephone: 021 418 4527
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 6pm | Saturday 9am – 1pm | Sunday closed