The Norval Foundation: Art in the Southern Suburbs

For art and culture enthusiasts, Cape Town is an incredible destination to explore. There are numerous world-class museums, beautiful galleries and fascinating exhibitions on display across the city and its surrounding areas. One such destination is the Norval Foundation.

Art lovers looking for a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon definitely need to add this beautiful location to their “must see” lists! This dk villas blogger recently enjoyed a morning exploring the exhibitions and sculpture gardens at the Norval Foundation. Read on below to find out everything you need to know about this Southern Suburbs gem!

Norval Foundation

What is the Norval Foundation?

The Norval Foundation is an art museum that celebrates 20th and 21st century art from South Africa, Africa and its diasporas. It is described as a “centre for art and cultural expression” and the art museum undertakes research into African art. It is also dedicated to its care and understanding!

Here, you’ll find art exhibitions housed in gallery spaces as well as the impressive Sculpture Garden. This combination is the perfect mix of art and an appreciation of nature!

The Norval family are the founders of the foundation. The gallery opened in 2018 with the aim of making “art widely accessible to local and international visitors by creating a self-sustaining centre for art.”

Norval Foundation Exterior

Where is it located?

The art museum is located at 4 Steenberg Road in the suburb of Tokai. It is surrounded by the natural beauty of the Constantia Winelands and nearby Table Mountain National Park, making for a truly impressive setting!

It is convenient to access from popular neighbourhoods in the Southern Peninsula including Hout Bay, Muizenberg, Constantia and more. It’s also only a 25 minute drive from the Cape Town city centre!


What are the current exhibitions?

When Rain Clouds Gather: Black South African Women Artists, 1940 – 2000 is the resident major exhibition, running from 9 February 2022 - 9 January 2023. Prominent black female South African artists including Gladys Mgudlandlu, Mmakgabo Mapula Helen Sebidi and many more. In addition to this, you can peruse The Zanzibari Years: Irma Stern which is on display until 1 August 2022. Upstairs in Gallery 9, spend time exploring Selections from the Homestead Collection and be sure to admire Kapwani Kiwanga: Shady on display in the atrium.

Current Exhibitions
Norval

What can I expect from a visit to the Norval Foundation?

A day of admiring beautiful things is what to expect from a visit to the Norval Foundation! On arrival, you’ll already be greeted by beautiful art from the get go! Admire the artworks in the foyer entrance, purchase or present your pre-bought tickets and get ready to explore. The exhibitions are spread out over several floors and galleries. There is a large exhibition space downstairs as well as six smaller galleries. Not forgetting the impressive Sculpture Garden outside! There is also a research library on site and an amphitheater located in the Sculpture Garden. Take it at a slow and leisurely pace to ensure you get your fill of the incredible artwork! This writer suggests beginning inside before making your way into the grounds.

Wind your way along the path through the Sculpture Garden. Here, you’ll find impressive, larger than life sculptures by artists including Wiliam Kentrige and Yinka Shonibare nestled among the natural scenery. As the pathway leads back to the building, pause for a while among the reeds and listen out for the sound installation As Yet Untitled by James Webb. It feels other-worldly!

Outside Norval
Outside Norval 2

What else can I do while there?

Along with the galleries and Sculpture Garden, the Norval Foundation houses Skotnes Restaurant and Bar. Skotnes serves contemporary South African dishes including breakfasts and lunch. A kids menu is also available. Make the most of the delicious food menu, cocktails and wine list, too!


Who would enjoy a visit to the Norval Foundation?

Honestly, everyone! You don’t need to be an art connoisseur to enjoy a visit to the Norval Foundation. The property is beautiful - you’ll find yourself just as captivated by the architecture as you will be by the art inside!

In many areas, the art itself provides an illustration of South African and African history making a visit to the art museum not only a visual treat but also an important educational excursion.

Once you’ve completed your journey through the galleries and gardens, pause for a bite to eat at the Skotnes Restaurant. Enjoy the delicious food and drinks while admiring views of the grounds and gardens, complemented by the gorgeous mountain ranges of Table Mountain National Park that provide a dramatic backdrop! Visiting with younger kids? They’ll be entertained by ‘Vincent’s Playground’ adjoining the restaurant area, so parents can relax while the kids have fun!

The Skotnes Restaurant
The Skotnes Restaurant outdoors

Ticket prices:

A day pass is R180 and gives visitors unlimited access to the museum and Sculpture Garden for one day. Entrance is free for under 18s and student and pensioners’ discounts are available. Annual membership passes are available for R220 and this gives members unlimited access to the museum and Sculpture Garden for one year from the date of purchase. Tickets and annual passes can be purchased online or at the front desk.


Opening hours:

The Norval Foundation is open Monday to Sunday from 9am - 5pm. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time. Please note, it is closed on Tuesdays.


Gallery

Now, you should be ready to plan a visit to the Norval Foundation of your very own! The gallery is an excellent addition to the incredible range of activities and destinations already available in the Southern Suburbs. It’s a great option to add to your to-do list, the next time you’re in the area.

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