Old Town House

City Hall becomes an exquisite little art museum!

The Old Town House (originally known as the Burger Watch House) is located on the border of Greenmarket Square in the Cape Town City Centre. This building is one of the finest and well known examples of Cape Dutch/Rococo style architecture. It was one of the first double story buildings in the Cape and was built while Rijk Tulbagh was governor. The silver trowel which was used to lay the first stone is on display at the museum.

Michaelis Collection

It was first built as a Burger watch house and council chambers but today it is described as an “exquisite little art museum” with a magnificent collection of art by Dutch and Flemish artists of the 16 th and 18th centuries (Michaelis Collection). Sir Max Michaelis donated the collection to the museum in 1914 and his bronze bust can be found over the fountain in the courtyard of the museum. It was sculpted by Moses Kottler who was a British-born Johannesburg businessman. In 1914 Sir Max Michaelis donated the world famous "Netherlandish Collection" of the 17th Century Golden Age.


Architect J. M. Solomon was responsible for the restoration of the building to accommodate the art collection. He changed the interior style to that of a 17th Century Dutch Guild Hall but left the exterior in its original style.

Outstanding features

  • Elaborate mouldings and fanlights
  • Magnificent stairway
  • Panelled and beamed Frans Hals Room
  • Picturesque Belfry
  • Shutters
  • Three arched portico


  • Frans Hals
  • Jan Steen
  • Jacob van Ruisdael
  • Anthony van Dyck

Permanent exhibitions

  • The Michaelis Collection
  • Baroque Meets Modern


  • Chamber music concerts
  • Functions in the intimate courtyard behind the building
  • Lectures on Cultural topics
  • Meeting place for cultural organisations
  • Receptions in the Van Dyck and Frans Hals Rooms


Lady Florence Philips was very influential in the setting up of the Michaelis collection by influencing a family friend Max Michaelis to purchase the Lane collection and present it to South Africa.

1716 - First plain simple house built on the site.

1761 - New more ornate building was built on the site.

1809 - Renovations were made after the earthquake caused damage to the finishes.

1905 - A new city hall was build facing the Parade.

1917 - Became the home of the Michaelis collection

1939 - The building was declared a National Monument.


  • Please note we are closed on Sunday, Workers Day, Christmas Day
  • Please consult their website under Contact Details for pricing.

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