Museums across the world are reopening, but it won’t quite be business as usual for art destinations such as Norval Foundation as they find ways to adapt to current health and safety regulations and reignite public passion for the arts in a safe environment.

The long-awaited reopening of the Norval Foundation galleries and sprawling Sculpture Garden just in time for spring features four powerful exhibitions. This establishment is notably focused on celebrating the work of marvellous pan-African artists, some whom have never been exhibited in Cape Town before.

Expertly put together by Chief Curator Owen Martin, Senior Advising Curator Karel Nel and their team, the exhibitions awaken a wide range of emotions, some of which the viewer might have believed to be long out of reach. Deeply-buried realisations are gently coaxed to the surface by some of the works, while others rip them from the viewer suddenly and without warning.

Visitors who book private guided tours will not be disappointed. Learning from the curators’ vast knowledge of and passion for the works on display is an enriching experience that could only be trumped by a tour with the artists themselves.

The exhibitions which mark the reopening of Norval Foundation include works by some of South Africa’s most inspiring rising artists including iiNyanga Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook): Athi-Patra Ruga, Alt and Omega: Jackson Hlungwani, And Then You See Yourself: Zanele Muholi and also feature Recent Acquisitions by the Homestead Collection.

Zanele Muholi, Somnyama in Lafayette, New York, 2016
iiNyanga Zonyaka (preparatory drawing for stained glass), 2020

Elana Brundyn, Chief Executive, Norval Foundation, said: “We’re all so looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Norval Foundation. The transformative and enriching power of art is even more significant in times like these. While we have all adapted to our new virtual lifestyles, it is hard to replicate the feeling of seeing a great work of art with your own eyes. The health and comfort of our staff and visitors is our main concern – all health and safety measures have been implemented in line with government regulations to ensure a safe reopening.”

The Sculpture Garden features various world-class pieces. Credit: Anita Froneman

To manage numbers and ensure social distancing, all visitors, including members, will need to book a timed ticket – preferably online, but time slots can also be purchased upon arrival. Tickets are available online, alongside the latest information and guidance on how to visit. Only 50 visitors will be allowed in the museum at time, and a one-way route has been introduced to facilitate distancing and reduce potential contact.

In response to COVID-19’s economic impact, Norval Foundation has replaced its daily admission tickets with a new membership option, Norval Foundation Access Membership, which offers visitors greater value.

The views from the Garden are indescribable. Credit: Anita Froneman

Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression, dedicated to the research, education and exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature. Visitors gain access to the gallery spaces and the lush Norval Foundation sculpture gardens and the on-site restaurant The Skotnes, all now on view via the Norval Foundation virtual tour.

The Skotnes Restaurant offers delectable cheese boards among other things.
Embrace Spring with a refreshing glass of superb wine at the Skotnes Restaurant. Credit: Anita Froneman

Regular operating hours will resume at Norval Foundation in September, 10am-6pm, Monday-Sunday, except Tuesdays when the museum is closed. Norval Foundation’s Skotnes Restaurant has been operating since 9 July and from 24 August, resumed its usual trading hours, Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday 8am-6pm, Thursday-Saturday, 8am-9pm and closed on Tuesday.

Tours need to be booked in advance. Bookings can be arranged through [email protected]

Pictures: Supplied

Article written by

Anita Froneman