The South African National Gallery is located in the Company Gardens in the heart of the Cape Town CBD . The gallery dates back to the late 1800s and was inaugurated with a donation of 45 paintings from the personal collection of Sir Thomas Butterworth. The building was redesigned in 1930 by Clelland & Mullins. The establishement has received regular upgrades over the years which include a climate control and lighting system.
Since it's inception the gallery has acquired a plethora of paintings, some dating as far back as the 17th century. The collection features colonial and contemporary artwork from England, Netherlands, France and Africa. It also possesses a fine collection of 20th century British painters.
However, up until 1990 the gallery hadn't held any African artwork from the pre-colonial era, nor any artwork from the apartheid years. To fill in this gap the gallery has since been dedicated to expanding its collection of South African artwork. The Bead Society of Southern Africa was set up at the gallery in 1999.
The gallery's collection of paintings is exhibited on rotation. This allows for a wide variety of artwork to be displayed such as sculptures, photography, beadwork, works on paper etc. The gallery also hosts visiting exhibitions from other artists and art galleries from all over the world.