Oliewenhuis Art Museum

Oliewenhuis Art Museum is committed to collect, conserve and exhibit works of art which represent the heritage of South African art on behalf of and to the advantage and edification of the entire community. The Museum is a satellite of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, an agency of the Department of Arts & Culture.

The permanent collection, which is frequently rearranged, is housed on the first floor and is devoted exclusively to works produced by South African artists. It has a solid foundation of early South African artists, and includes works by:

  • Baines, Thomas
  • Coetzer, Willem
  • Pierneef, Jacob Hendrik
  • Volschenk, Jan Ernst
  • Wenning, Pieter

It is the only museum of its kind in the Free State and one of the youngest art museums in the country.

Walking Trails

The Museum is located in one of the most magnificent gardens in the city, on Grant’s Hill, surrounded by 12 hectares of natural vegetation offering access to four marked walking trails through unspoilt natural surroundings. The Museum gardens also offer ideal picnic spots.


The Art Museum is committed to the development of human resources in the fields of arts and culture and fulfils its mission by means of publishing research and information relevant to its collection, and by providing advice on purchases to members of the public, corporations and public institutions. The Museum strives to actively participate in the artistic life of the Free State Province. The Museum co-operates with other museums with regard to exhibitions and the promotion of arts and culture; it commissions artworks from young artists with an emphasis on regional talent and actively supports artists of the region by providing advice and information on exhibiting and marketing of artworks.

In addition, the Museum has committed itself to setting standards of quality and clarity both for its collections and exhibitions. By collecting and exhibiting the best work it can afford, the Museum fosters in the community a sense of pride and ownership of the Museum’s holdings, programmes and goals.


Oliewenhuis was designed by William Mollison, Head Architect of the Department of Public Works and his assistant, John Stockwing Cleland in 1935. Completed in 1941, this mansion, located on Grant’s Hill, served as residence for the Governor General of the Union of South Africa from 1942.

In 1947, King George VI, his wife and two daughters used Oliewenhuis as residence during their three-day visit to Bloemfontein. After the establishment of the Republic of South Africa in 1961, Oliewenhuis became the official residence for the State Presidents of South Africa during official visits to Bloemfontein.

In 1972, the building was officially named Oliewenhuis, the name being derived from the abundance of wild olive trees growing on the surrounding hills.

On 19 July 1985, after prolonged campaigning by the art loving citizens of Bloemfontein for an art museum, former State President P.W. Botha released the residence to the National Museum for the purpose of converting it into an art museum. Several structural alterations and adjustments had to be made to the existing building to provide a suitable environment for the conservation and exhibition of artworks. On 11 October 1989, Oliewenhuis Art Museum was officially opened as a satellite of the National Museum. The Museum boasts up-to-date technology to store and exhibit artworks in ideal climatic and security conditions.

Open Hours

  • Monday to Friday, 08h00 - 17h00
  • Saturday, 09h00 - 16h00
  • Sunday & public holidays, 09h00 - 16h00
  • Closed, Christmas Day & Good Friday

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