Not everyone knows that Pretoria is actually one of the three or four most important cities in all of South Africa. It serves as the executive branch of the government, and many regard it in many ways as the real capital city. Many of the locals refer to it also by its nickname, which is Jacaranda City, named after the thousands of Jacaranda trees which are to be found all over town. While many people come to Pretoria for business reasons, it is worth pointing out that there are in fact many other attractions which make this city highly popular. One of the most important cultural highlights is its museum, aptly known as the Pretoria Art Museum.
Over Half a Century of Excellence
The Pretoria Art Museum really got its start in the early 1930s, when it received a treasure trove of artwork which was donated by Lady Michaelis, who, as the widow of Sir Max Michaelis, decided that the city needed to start having a cultural centre of gravity. Given her and her late husband’s background, most of the artwork was from the 17th century “North Dutch School”, which still was composed of many magnificent pieces done in this Flemish Baroque style. However, there were also some works from local South African artists of the time. Originally, the entire collection was owned by the City Council of Pretoria, and for lack of a better location, the entire initial collection was housed in the Town Hall. Wisely, the city leaders decided to focus future collections on native South African art, seeing how museums in both Johannesburg and Cape Town already had substantial collections of 17th, 18th and 19th century art.
Running Out Of Room
In the ensuing decades, the collection gradually grew. It grew to such an extent that it really was not feasible to exhibit everything at the Town Hall. It was thus that in 1954 the City Council decided that it was time to build a proper building to house the entire collection. It was thus that the Pretoria Art Museum came into being. Still, it took time to acquire the necessary land, hire the appropriate architects, decide what type of architectural style the building should have, and finally build it. It was thus that the museum was inaugurated in 1962, where it still remains. The museum occupies an entire city block in Arcadia Park and continues to build on its reputation as an excellent source of original South African art.
Enjoying the Comfort of Pretoria
Pretoria is not only popular with tourists and businessman, but also with a lot of government officials from all over the world, given the fact that most embassies are located in the centre of town. While not everyone is exactly sure where they should stay when they visit Pretoria, the good news is that lodges in Pretoria offer excellent accommodation that provides security, luxury and comfort.
Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons Janek Szymanowski