This small gallery, started with an initial donation by Victorian randlord Sir Abe Bailey, has room to exhibit only 5% to 8% of its collection of more than 8,000 artworks. Despite this, and despite a lack of funding, it is considered by many to be the country's premier art museum, with many artworks reflecting South Africa's turbulent and painful history. Under the expert guidance of Marilyn Martin, the gallery has collected works neglected by other South African galleries, including rare examples of what used to be considered crafts, such as Ndebele beadwork and knobkierries (fighting sticks). The gallery also often hosts excellent traveling exhibitions -- a recent popular choice was the exhibition profiling the influence that African art had on Picasso, including much of his work as well as African objects he collected and kept in his studio. There is also a regular HIV/AIDS photographic/mixed medium retrospective, an eye-opening exhibition that has locals coming back year after year -- you are lucky if you catch this one.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Very Highly Recommended 2010