Pretoria’s new Javett-UP Art Centre – “home to the art of Africa”

Officially opening on September 24, The Javett-UP Art Centre at the University of Pretoria is an exciting new museum that promises to become a new “home to the art of Africa”.

A partnership between the Javett Foundation and the University of Pretoria (UP), the impressive Javett-UP is one of the largest new art museums to open in South Africa in recent years, with an exciting mandate that seeks to engage students and the public with the creativity and diversity of African art, from the ancient to the contemporary.

Javett-UP will open with an exhibition of works from the prized modern South African art collection of the Javett family and a temporary exhibition, 101 A Guide to Collecting Conversations – Signature Works of a Century, that will be on show for six months. This remarkable temporary exhibition is made up of 101 iconic works of significant South African art from private, corporate and public art collections from across the country, including masterpieces by the likes of Irma’s Stern, Gerard Sekoto, Zanele Muholi, Jackson Hlungwane, Cristo Coetzee and William Kentridge.

Also on show is Alexis Preller’s Discovery, a formidable work that hasn’t been seen in public in over 30 years. The massive painting, which was completed in the 1960s and spent decades hidden away inside a government building in central Pretoria, will undergo live conservation in situ at its new home inside the museum.

The patterning on the walkway connecting Javett-UP to the University of Pretoria campus is inspired by shweshwe fabrics
Installing Preller’s Discovery at Javett-UP
The Mapungubwe rhino will have a new home at Javett-UP’s high-tech interactive Gold of Africa Gallery, sharing space with a remarkable collection of West African golden artifacts

The museum also includes the high-tech new Gold of Africa Gallery which will provide a new home for the iconic gold rhino and leopard and many other priceless treasures from the precious Mapungubwe collection. The new Gold of Africa gallery includes high-tech VR technology that offers visitors a unique, interactive view of the thriving Mapungubwe civilization that served as a sophisticated trading centre from around 1200 to 1300 AD in what is now northern Limpopo.

Talking of Javett-UP’s ambition to create a new home for African art in South Africa, museum director Christopher Till says that the exciting new space “is the culmination of a vision to personalise the art of Africa and to make it more accessible.

It’s a place that tells the story of where we come from, where we are now, and why our African-ness matters. This is our Africa, and it’s our art.”

Find out more about the new Javett-Up Art Centre at and save the date for the museum’s grand opening on Heritage Day, September 24, 2019.

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