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Museum Buildings




Old Arts Building

The beautiful building with its clock tower, Oregan Pine floors and slate staircases was the first building to be completed on the campus of what was then the Transvaal University College (TUC). The foundation stone was laid on 3 August 1910. At the opening in August 1911, General Jan Smuts expressed the hope that the TUC would one day be to this country what Oxford is to England. Today, the staircase still features an exquisite stained glass window of the original TUC coat of arms. Designed by a student of Sir Herbert Baker, Percy Eagle, the building different styles including elements of Cape Dutch and Neo-Romanesque. The building was declared a National Monument in 1968. The fountain in front of the building was redesigned in 1990, with two Red Lechwe (antelope), sculpted by Coert Steynberg, and sponsored by Dr Anton Rupert and his wife, Huberte. Initally, the building housed almost the entire University. Today, it houses the World Ceramics and Mapungubwe Galleries, the UP Archives and the Department of UP Arts.

Old Merensky

In 1933 it was decided to construct a separate building for the library, which was then still located in the Old Arts Building. With a contribution of £5000 from mining geologist Dr Hans Merensky, it was constructed on 11 October 1937. General Jan Smuts laid the foundation stone on 11 October 1937 and on 15 April 1939 the building was officially opened. In designing the building, architect Gerhard Moerdyk was influenced by various styles, including Art Deco, Neo-Classicism, Arts and Crafts, as well as local styles such as Cape Dutch and Regency. Moerdyk himself described the building as a study in Persian style, with influences from Africa, including Zimbabwe and Ancient Egyptian ruins. He used local materials and incorporated symbols of African origins. The prominent zigzag pattern, for example, is taken from Great Zimbabwe and represents water and fertility. The curving of the walls symbolises an open book. The green, bevelled glass windows were imported from Italy and helped to minimise heat from the sun and also protected paper from ultraviolet light. The design of the building is a source of controversy and speculation with some claiming that Moerdyk used it as a practice run for the design of the Voortrekker Monument, as there are many similiarities between the two buildings. Today, the national monument houses the Sculptural Collections of the University of Pretoria Museums, as well as the Mimi Coertse and other library collections.




- Author Nicole Hoffmann
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Last edited by Nicole HoffmannEdit