The UP Museums and Javett-UP turn iconic pieces from their collections into online puzzles

Posted on May 22, 2020

The University of Pretoria (UP) Museums and the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) have transformed key gallery artworks and iconic items from their collections into online puzzles. This was to mark International Museum Day on 18 May.

Hosted on Jigsaw Explorer, these puzzles allow users to interact with these collections in a new way during these unprecedented times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UP Museums online puzzles

Javett-UP online puzzles

“This is a trend that we have seen from museums all over the world, from the Museums of Sheffield and South Yorkshire in the UK to the Melbourne Museum in Australia,” Head of The UP Museums Dr Sian Tiley-Nel says. “We saw it fitting that we too commemorate the excellence of our own museums and collections by transforming some of our favourite pieces into online puzzles. This also serves the very important function of keeping us connected to our diverse audience by going online.”

Dr Tiley-Nel says that puzzles are beneficial for young and old, and are a great way to keep boredom at bay during lockdown.


A puzzle of Leonard Matsoso’s The Sacrifice.

“Puzzles are not just a crucial educational learning tool for early childhood development, but have surprising benefits for adults as well. Solving puzzles reinforces existing connections between our brain cells and aid the learning process of formulating theories and testing hypotheses. Empirical psychological evidence has demonstrated that solving puzzles enhances cognition, and can lead to longer life expectancy, reducing chances of developing mental illnesses such as memory loss and dementia. Puzzles have been around since the 1700s and research shows quantifiable health benefits of carrying this educational and fun activity into adulthood.”

The sites offer a variety of pieces to explore from The UP Museums’ and Javett-UP collections that differ in size and difficulty, from the iconic Mapungubwe golden rhino to works by JH Pierneef and various contemporary artists.

“We at the Javett-UP are passionate about promoting the art of Africa,” says Director of Javett-UP Christopher Till. “The UP Museums and Javett-UP enjoy a healthy relationship because of our shared mission of bringing the art of Africa to the people. Sharing some of the national treasures housed at both The UP Museums and the Javett-UP via online puzzles is not only innovative and necessary at a time when many in these extraordinary circumstances have turned to the digital space, but is also vital because it allows our audiences the opportunity to learn more about the art. The well-documented health benefits of puzzles on the human brain are an added benefit. This is an initiative we are proud to be a part of.”

“The online puzzle platform is free and not only will it provide some lockdown fun time, but will also draw attention to the magnificent range and depth of the collections,” adds Dr Tiley-Nel. “We loved turning the items in our collections into puzzles, and I believe the Mapungubwe golden rhino, housed at the Javett-UP since September 2019, is going to be a firm favourite.

“We hope people enjoy solving these beautiful puzzles and making connections between the left and right sides of the brain, and connecting to The UP Museums collections and to the art of Africa.”

The UP Museums and the Javett-UP look forward to inviting visitors to view the original works after the lockdown period ends.

- Author Masego Panyane

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences