"To write a history of the Museum is to give account of the evolution
of two concepts: that of the Museum and that of Time."
The "history" of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, in Afrikaans
"Johannesburgse Kunsmuseum" starts way back when the concept "museum"
from the Greek "museion", Latin "museum", was first applied to a
collection of works of Art. The Italian Renaissance was responsible
for that. Prior to that, the concept museum like the one in
Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy Philadelphus (Ptolemy Soter) did not
include works of art.
In the same way the word "gallery" is derived from the Italian
"galleria" and was first used in the time of the Renaissance to mean
"a succession of splendid rooms, like the galleria Palatina in the
Pitti Palace" in which works of art were displayed. By the end of
the 16th century the word "gallery" was firmly established in the
English language to denote a venue for housing or exhibiting paintings
The concept "museum/gallery" is thus rooted in Time, i.e. in History
and is a manifestation of man's desire to preserve and display, for
whatever reason, that which gives him spiritual sustenance.
But as man is the product of the age in which he lives, what he
conceives as beautiful or worth preserving will depend on the society
in which he finds himself. His taste will reflect his social, economic
and political environment and that is something which is never static.
It will thus follow that what one generation deems worthy of
preserving might not necessarily be valued by subsequent generations.