The Pretoria Art Museum opened its doors to the public on May 20, 1964. At that time the Johannesburg Art Gallery had already been established in 1910 and the South African National Gallery in Cape Town in 1895. The realization of the Pretoria Art Museum was an accomplishment of the City’s clerk’s push for the city to have a museum of its own that would enable it to showcase works that the city owned which until then had been confined to its administrative offices and the City Hall. This nucleus collection which had been inaccessible to the general public, consisted of South African Old Masters and 17 Century Dutch art. On 15 April 1964, about a month before the museum opened officially to the public, the Selection Committee of the Board of Trustees of the Art Museum instituted by the City Council of Pretoria met to deliberate on how the collection of the museum was to be built in order to expand this nucleus collection further.The result was a series of eight resolutions that favoured the acquisition of South African Old Masters and The Hague School (19thcentury Netherlandish art). In the minutes of that meeting no mention was made of the acquisition of 20thcentury South African black artists. By 1994 about 2 404 units of artworks by white artists had been acquired in contrast to about 86 units of artworks by black artists. The eight resolutions tabulated by the board, can be taken as an informal policy thatthe museum adopted during the thirty-year period of its existence from 1964 to 1994 to acquire artworks. No formal acquisition policy existed as a part of the museum’s acquisition strategy during that three decade period. Fortunately, as the collection grew, there were deviations in the ‘acquisition strategy’ because works by black artists, though collected at a far lesser frequency than those by white artists, found their place in the collection. This research paper is a homage to the contributions of 20thcentury South African black artists’ contributions to the history of South African art.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2020.