UP Museum Archive

Introduction to the University of Pretoria Museum Archive

The University of Pretoria (UP) Museum Archive, located at the Old Arts Building (1910) on Hatfield Campus in South Africa, contains a diverse collection of primary materials that can be used by researchers who are looking to investigate the further museum history behind artists and their artworks. As a newly founded archive of only 2022, the primary purpose of the UP Museum Archive is to bring forward the history of the University of Pretoria Museum collections which comprise of numerous contributions that span over a 110-year history. The collections date back to 1922 that covers the time frame before it was officiated as university museum in 1968.

Some notable holdings of the Archive include materials of the Dutch collector, Van Gybland-Oosterhoff (1887- 1937) whose collection was accepted by the University of Pretoria in 1939. The archive includes the works and archives of Dutch-born Anton van Wouw (1862-1945) who is still widely regarded as the founding father of South African sculpture. Other materials are those by Italian artist, Edoardo Villa (1915-2011), who developed his iconic career after serving as a South African prisoner of war. These are some, but not the only integral contributions available in the UP Museum Archive. The types of archival materials lodged in the Archive, relate to newspaper articles, historical documents such as letters of correspondence, historical photographs, meeting notes and agendas, books, sketches, memorandums of agreement as well as old school assignments set on the contents of the Museum collection.

The archive aims to expand and include over time, more of the museum collection in its entirety, as well as the history of the UP Museums as a whole, making it the primary source to consult on the collective history of the university museums, its collections and associated artists covering the time period of 192- 2022. As of January 2023, the University of Pretoria Museum Archive joined the International Council of Archives (ICA) with the set priority to, “promote the preservation and use of archives around the world”. This goal is shared by the UP Museum Archive and as a fledgling archive aims to preserve the narratives and histories contained in the museum collection.

It is the mission of the University of Pretoria Museum Archive to make as many resources eventually available and accessible for research purposes. As well as to open the archive to wider reinterpretations, reconstructions, bringing history alive and more primary archival material into a digital domain. In higher education, university museums and archives have major contributions to make as ideal sources of research inspiration. This includes for the acquisition of new research skills and contributes to the conduct of research methods and access to primary materials within graduate studies, notably at Masters and Doctoral levels of education.

Contact the University of Pretoria Museum Archive for access and more information:
Tel: + 27 12 420 2291
The Archivist, Michelle de La Harpe
E-mail: [email protected]

- Author Dr. Sian Tiley-Nel

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