Collections and Digitisation

Iziko Museums’ collections represent South Africa’s diverse and dynamic social and cultural histories, artworks from across Africa and abroad, and the immense variety of wonders from the natural world. Scholars and researchers at Iziko Museums – and from across the globe – access these vast collections to research, better understand, and expand upon our knowledge; and you too can explore Iziko’s collections online, below.

Collections

The collections of African Art in the Permanent Collection of the South African (SA) National Gallery mirror...
Artefacts from the so-called Ancient and Classical Cultures are well represented in the collections of Iziko Museums of South Africa.
Iziko’s Archaeology Unit has vast collections relating to the prehistoric archaeological record of South Africa.
Cenozoic Palaeontology. The Cenozoic period spans the Palaeogene (66 million years ago (Ma)) to the Quaternary (Holocene - present)
Iziko holds ceramics that originate from many parts of the world, mainly Asia, Europe, Africa, and in particular southern Africa. Contemporary works by South African ceramic artists form an important and developing part of the collection.
Unlike Iziko’s collections of Historical or Modern art, the ambit of the collection of Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture shifts with time, as works once considered “contemporary” recede further from the present and are incorporated into “history”.
Terrestrial invertebrates are animals without vertebral columns (backbones/spines) that live primarily or totally on land, and fall within the phylum Arthropoda.
The furniture collection contains a substantial amount of South African furniture, dating from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries.
The glass collection includes items bearing the monogram of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and the Rosa van Gelderen Collection, a small but representative collection depicting English Victorian glass.
The historical collections of painting and sculpture within the Art Collections Department of Iziko Museums embrace a wide range of works for art that are both South African and foreign in origin.
These collections comprise material mostly from Africa, with a special emphasis on southern Africa. Some of the older collections include objects from all over the world for comparative purposes, such as Inuit material as an example of hunter-gatherer material culture in environmental conditions very different from those in Africa.
Invertebrate palaeontology is the study of fossils of animals with no backbone or spine. Fossils are the remains or impressions of a once-living plant or animal found in rock and often hardened through natural processes.
The Karoo is a vast semi-desert region that covers much of inland South Africa, and is considered a national treasure for its abundance of desert-adapted plant and animal life, as well as its world famous fossils.
Marine Invertebrates: crustaceans, cephalopods, shelled molluscs, polychaetes (J.H. Day collection) and hydroids Marine Fishes: bony and cartilaginous fish (mesopelagic fish, Prince Edward Islands, Melville Ridge, fish osteology, cartilaginous fish and skeletal element collections)
Marine mammals are a large and diverse group of 129 species that include seals, whales, dolphins, walruses and even polar bears. They share relatively few biological characteristics, but are instead grouped together because of one common factor – they all rely on the ocean for their existence.
The Shipwreck and Historical Archaeology collections do not have dedicated collection managers and are administered by the researchers from the Iziko Maritime Archaeology Department.
Modernism is not easy to define, but refers roughly to a period dating from the 1860s through to the 1970s, and is used to describe the styles and ideologies of art produced during that era.
The numismatic collection includes a medal collection consisting mainly of pre-union Cape campaign medals, commemorative medals, and Cape-related prize medals.
The Photography and New Media Collections are amongst the ‘youngest’ of Iziko South African National Gallery’s permanent collections’ departments.
The Department of Prints and Drawings is responsible for the care and acquisition of all works on paper. For prudent financial reasons over the years, there has been an emphasis on acquiring more affordable works on paper by many international and local artists.
Minerals are commonly described as homogenous, naturally occurring solids with a definite chemical composition and a distinct arrangement of atoms.
Of special interest is the silver collection, especially the Cape silver. The Heller Collection of Cape Silver consists of hollowware and flatware made by all the best-known silversmiths working at the Cape during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Terrestrial vertebrates are commonplace, distributed across the globe even though vertebrates, as a whole, make up a fraction of animal diversity.
An extremely large textile collection includes flags, household linen, Indonesian ikats and batiks, Oriental carpets, samples and embroideries, as well as tapestries.
The toy collection contains mainly dolls, some soft toys, and games.
Four-wheeled wagon also known as a molwa. (SACHM87-693) .
Weaponry from all over the world including Africa and Southern Africa forms a large part of the Social History Collections and contains different types of firearms, stabbing weapons, artillery, protective garments, shields, throwing weapons and many more.
Fine and interesting examples of paintings and decorative arts of special relevance to the Cape are to be found in the William Fehr Collection.
A large collection of woodworking tools enhances the furniture collection and was documented and donated by Captain W. J. Van der Merwe, and consists of more than five thousand objects used in all facets of woodworking.
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Conservation

The conservation of painting in the Art Collections Department of Iziko Museums of South Africa is focused on the unique and valued collections from the late 18th Century to the present. The range of conservation and restoration treatments can vary depending on the paintings and their condition.

The Sir Abe Bailey Bequest is the largest bequest held at the Iziko South African National Gallery to this day, and constitutes one of the largest collections of British sporting art held by any public art museum in the world.

Meet The Collections and Digitisation Staff

Director Collections and Digitisation
Collections and Digitisation