“It is an honour to open this major exhibition, titled Artology: Selected Works from the University of Pretoria (UP) Museums Collection,” said UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe during the opening of the exhibition presented by the UP Museums in association with the Javett-UP Art Centre. “It is also my pleasure to officiate the public launch of the latest art book, titled Artology, which showcases UP’s eminent collections.”
This exhibition opening follows the 2022 centenary celebrations of the UP Museums.
Last year, the UP Museums conceptualised and defined the term “artology, which refers to a curatorial perspective and an investigative tool that probes art collections by actively researching archives, conserving and curating its collections, and interacting with audiences within the framework of a university museum setting. Through artology, the UP Museums will continue to curate and collect in order to build and reimagine the future of UP’s permanent art collection.
In his speech, Prof Kupe explained what the exhibition is about and indicated that it is a response to digital acceleration driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The exhibition features artworks labelled with QR codes that lead visitors directly to the internationally acclaimed Google Arts & Culture platform, which brings more than 4 000 museum collections into a single and exciting digital realm,” he said.
“The vision of the UP Arts Committee is close to that of the University: the UP art collection is reflective of a leading research-intensive university in Africa,” said UP Executive Director of Finance and Business Initiatives Prof Carolina Koornhof, who also chairs the UP Arts Committee. “The art collection is recognised for its academic and educational relevance and sustainability, and the future trajectory aimed at preserving arts, in particular South African art and South African history.”
She added that the Arts Committee hopes to have a permanent art gallery dedicated to UP’s art collection.
“We have about 19 000 pieces of art and we want to continue to grow and enhance this impressive collection,” Prof Koornhof said. “We rely largely on our partners and donors, and sometimes, artwork is given to the institution on loan. Some of these art collections are not easily accessible as they are hanging in our offices.”
Explaining an empty frame featured in the exhibition, Prof Koornhof said the frame represented some of the art that could not be filled in the room, but also represented future art collections.
Prof Kupe reminded those who were at the launch event to support UP by purchasing the Artology book and announced that in a few months, the exhibition will be launched online as a pocket gallery. It will be available 24/7 and will be accessible from anywhere in the world.
“We are particularly pleased to see this exhibition travel to an iconic gallery in Johannesburg from August 2023 and perhaps other interested art galleries in 2024.”
The exhibition will be on at Javett-UP from 19 April to 13 July 2023.