Rupert Museum

At the bottom end of historic Dorp Street, on the banks of the Eersterivier, is what appears to be a whitewashed cellar set in a vineyard. It is actually the Rupert Museum, home to a superb collection of modern South African art from 1940 to early 2000.

One of our exhibitions include: SOOS FAMILIE / LIKE FAMILY

As the museum is currently closed until further notice, this exhibition will unfortunately not be open to the public when the museum reopens.

Mary Sibande (1982-)
Sophie / Velicia in conversation with Madam CJ Walker (2009). Fibreglass resin, cotton and synthetic hair embroidered on canvas. Courtesy of SMAC Gallery and the artist.


“She is like family”

“Sy was soos ‘n ma vir my” “Sy’s nader aan my as ‘n suster”

A phrase that at once brings you into one’s close and intimate circle and in the same instance sets you apart…

Ena Jansen, acclaimed author, takes an interdisciplinary look at the history of domestic workers in South African literature and the visual arts, as explored in this exhibition. Soos Familie – Stedelike huiswerkers in Suid-Afrikaanse tekste, was published in 2015. The theme struck a chord with the international broader community. In 2016 it was translated to Dutch under the title, Bijna Familie,Wits University Press recently published Like Family in 2019.

To be at once endeared and overlooked, the thread of iconic female figures present in Jansen’s book are celebrated by NAME. In the disciplines of visual arts, illustration and poetry this exhibition highlights the work of artists Penny Siopis, Marlene Dumas, Huw Morris, Claudette Schreuders, Senzeni Marasela, Irma Stern, Sandra Kriel, Ingrid Winterbach, David Goldblatt, Mary Sibande, William Kentridge, Madam & Eve creators and Antjie Krog.

In the author’s own words Soos Familie / Like Family is a blend of sociology, history and literary analysis of an array of fictional and nonfictional stories. In a sense, the book may be regarded as a biography of domestic workers (women and labour). Recent South African produced screenplays like Krotoa and Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena, global movements like #MeToo #ImStaying all unpack and question long raised contentious issues that surfaces in the narrative of the featured artwork, and in the same breath evokes nostalgic feelings regarding the interpersonal relationships and bonds formed through the presence of these iconic figures.

The Rupert Museum houses the private art collection of well-known South African industrialist, the late Dr Anton Rupert and his wife Huberte. An electrical short at the Rupert home, that almost caused a fire, led to Huberte Rupert’s decision to establish the art museum.

She commissioned the building in 2003, choosing Hannes Meiring, known for his love of historic architecture, as the architect. Officially opened in February 2005, the Rupert Museum now shows the best of South African artists such as Maggie Laubser, Irma Stern, Alexis Preller, Walter Battiss, Elza Dziomba, Jean Welz, JH Pierneef, Lippy Lipshitz, Moses Kotler, Anton van Wouw and Coert Steynberg. In addition, there are also major European works by leading sculptors such as Auguste Rodin and Käthe Kollwitz, as well as French tapestries by Jean Lurçat.

To many art lovers a highlight visiting the Rupert Museum has been the exhibition of JH Pierneef’s Station Panels – considered to mark the highpoint of his career. This national treasure, the property of the Transnet Foundation, was relocated in 2009 from Graaff-Reinet to Stellenbosch where they now fill one of the four galleries at the museum.

Pierneef was commissioned by the then South African Railways and Harbours to paint panels depicting places of natural beauty and historical value for the new Johannesburg Park Station in 1929. The architecture of the concourse specifically included spaces for the panels to be affixed. This determined both the size and number of the panels – 32 in total.

As of 2018, granddaughter Hanneli Rupert has taken over the mantel with a dedicated vision to make the museum an inclusive space for the community. The short and intensive renovation project that started October 2018 had a firm goal in mind “a museum without walls”. Since the reopening of the Rupert Museum in May 2019, the museum has featured various exhibitions, relooking and rehanging the known favourite works inclusive of the JHB Station Panels. Overall exhibition themes are set for a year, but to feature various aspects and include more artwork each exhibition has scheduled rotations and changes on a 3 month basis.

The museum’s public programmes includes a diverse spectrum of activities for everyone. Programmes include the vibrant Museum Saturday’s (taking place on the last Saturday of each month) that boosts artist talks, walkabouts, master and kid workshops, a pop-up menu for the day from the Museum Café and some live music with complimentary tastings ranging from wine, whiskey, beer and champagne.

In the week, programmes are dedicated to after school workshops with local outreach centres, Senior Tuesdays, Curator led walkabouts on Wednesday and Friday and Yoga Thursdays.

The new spaces such as the contemporary and modern glass foyer, MakerStudio and event lawn, active library and vibrant Museum Café are open for all to enjoy.

Rupert Museum Garden
Cheetahs by Shayne Haysom luring in their new water-wise habitat
Cheetahs by Shayne Haysom in their new water-wize habitat.