The Old Town House was built in Cape Town in 1755 under Governor Rijk Tulbagh, and was one of Cape Town’s first official buildings. Baerendt Artois, a member of the Court of Justice, laid the first stone on this site. This stone can still be viewed in the museum.
Located in the heart of the city on Greenmarket Square, the early Rococo-style building has served as a police station, magistrate’s court, a Burgher Watch House, the Burgher Senate and until 1905, Cape Town’s City Hall. It is vitally important to Cape Town in both an historical and cultural context. Today the building serves as a museum, housing fine art, including the Michaelis Collection of 100 Flemish and Dutch masterpieces.
When the Old Town House was converted into a museum it was the first of its kind in the city. Sir Max Michaelis, in 1914, donated his collection of 17th century Dutch and Flemish art to the museum. The collection includes masters like Frans Hals, Jacob Ruisdal, Anthony van Dyck and many others.
Apart from its permanent collection on display, the museum also holds temporary exhibitions and is a great place to visit. The museum extends its services through the night and is a popular venue for lectures on culture and chamber-music concerts. The Old Town House also offers its premises for corporate meetings and receptions. The beautiful courtyard is often used for film shoots, wedding photographs and outdoor receptions.