Education Activities - South African National Gallery

Education Activities - South African National Gallery

The South African National Art Gallery believe that art is a primary vehicle for fostering cross-cultural awareness and appreciation. Through exhibitions, tours, workshops, lectures, semiars and films, we strive to promote inter-cultural dialogue and thus assist in the bridge-building process so necessary for social reconstruction.

They are painfully aware that the inequalities in access to cultural resources have to be redressed, and are committed to providing life-long cultural education in both the formal and non-formal education. The Gallery bus is made available for special visits.

The Education Department is committed to building and strengthening the public role and influence of the museum through programmes and services that meet the needs of users from a broad and diverse spectrum of the public. We act in the interest of helping to shape an informed, educated, sensitive and aware citizenry.

Publications, including exhibition catalogues and pamphlets, are available in the South African National Gallery shop.

Information on current activities was published in our quarterly newsletter Bonani, which is Xhosa for "look people". Bonani was last published in the 1st quarter of 2000.


Donated by the Anglo American and De Beer's Chairman's Fund in 1995, the SANG bus is available as a free service to schools, clubs, organisations or groups from the Cape Peninsula and environs wishing to visit the Gallery. To book, contact the Education Office on 451628. Please note that two weeks advance notice is usually required for a booking and that the bus can accommodate only 33 people at a time. When booking, kindly supply us with all pertinent details, viz. date and time of visit and the collection and drop-off points.

gerard sekoto day

Gerard Sekoto (1913 - 1993), a South African-born painter who lived and died in Paris, sponsored the first Children's Day at the Johannesburg Art Gallery in 1991. Since 1992, open days have been held for children and young adults at art museums and galleries around the country. As Gerard Sekoto was born on 9 December 1913, the event is held on the Saturday closest to his birthday. All children are invited to participate in a day of fun-filled activities which include various art workshops, performances and live music.

International Museum Day

International Museum Day (28 May) was proclaimed by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 1977 with a view to raising awareness about the role of museums in society. As called upon by ICOM, many museums throughout the world have since celebrated the day under the slogan, "Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples."

SANG's contribution to International Museum Day involves a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gallery and other activity as advertised.

guided tours

Hour-long public tours, held on either a Wednesday at 13:05 or Saturday at 15:00, are advertised at the entrance to SANG. While we offer general tours of the Gallery, including a look behind the scenes, tours focus mainly on engagement with exhibitions drawn from SANG's Permanent Collection or travelling or special exhibitions by guest curators. In accordance with SANG's Exhibition Policy, tours are geared to highlight the following types of exhibitions:
1. Exhibitions that foster community participation
2. Traditional African art
3. Cutting-edge or avant-garde exhibitions
4. Work by foreign artists that promotes international exchange
5. Retrospective exhibitions of work by prominent South African artists or those who have made an important contribution to the development of art
6. Exhibitions that raise issues of national or other important concern

The Education Department also organises tours for schools, clubs, associations, non-government organisations and other groups. Requests should be submitted two weeks in advance as otherwise there is no guarantee that a tour can be organised at short notice. In the case of groups requiring transport, the SANG bus is available on request at no charge.
As tour organisations have a commercial interest, there is a charge for guided tours requested by tour operators, viz. R150 per hour, or R200 if the tour exceeds an hour. Two weeks advance notice is required and a group may not exceed 40 people. Tours in foreign languages can only be accommodated if a suitable guide is available. Bookings: The Education Office on 465 1628.

the invited artists' programme

As visitors to SANG engage with the artwork as an end product in the art process, The Invited Artists' Programme (Artist-in-Residency Programme) is designed for the public to explore the methods, techniques, ideas and approaches involved in making art by engaging the artist at work. Each Invited Artist at SANG is chosen either for his/her stature and openness to the public, or because of his/her contribution to an area of public interest - beadwork, for example. During the course of his/her two-week stay at SANG, the selected artist works on a small body of work in a temporary studio in the Gallery, while at the same time dealing with responses and questions from the public. To amplify the public's experience and understanding of the artist, a small body of completed works by the artist is on view, as well as his/her choice of works from our Permanent Collection. The Programme also includes workshops and more formal discussion in the field of the artist's expertise as one aim is to profile the selected artist as teacher.

Launched in 1989, the Invited Artists' Programme has included, among others, the following acclaimed artists: Peter Schütz, Andries Botha, Willie Bester, Wendy Ross, William Kentridge, Alan Crump, Keith Dietrich, Kevin Brand and Hayden Proud.

exhibition briefings for teachers

The Education Department first introduced exhibition briefings for teachers in 1993, so as to keep teachers informed about current exhibitions, kindle interest in SANG and the Natale Labia Museum as a learning resource, and maintain and develop relations with as many teachers as possible, but art teachers in particular. We believe that if teachers are kept informed of exhibitions, they will be able to guide their own groups through the Gallery, thus stimulating the flow of schools through the museum. Briefings, by either the exhibition's Curator or one of the Education Officers, are advertised in bonani, although teachers may make block bookings outside the advertised schedule. Bookings: The Education Office on 465 1628.

the teacher training programme

It is official policy that arts education be made available to all. Establishing the subject in the curriculum of formerly disadvantaged schools has, however, been extremely slow and problematic. While, in general, the apartheid legacy will take generations to overcome, among the particular constraints are limited financial resources and a lack of skills in the field of arts education.

The Education Department at SANG is committed to playing a role in addressing the problem. Launched in February 1996, the Teacher Training Programme is a collaborative project involving SANG's Education Department and the Curriculum Development Project for the Creative Arts (CDP), an independent, non-governmental organisation based in Johannesburg. The Programme is designed to empower in-service primary school teachers without qualifications in art to teach art in formerly disadvantaged schools, and involves five hours of tuition a week during school term over a period of two years. Teachers are recruited through negotiation with principals and their staffs.

As schools in formerly disadvantaged communities are under-resourced, the Programme places particular emphasis on ways and means of teaching art with limited resources and where facilities and equipment are practically non-existent. Following the guidelines laid down in Lindy Solomons' Khula Udweba (Grow as You Draw), a handbook for teaching art to children, the course involves a hands-on approach to learning but also includes an Art Methodology component. Guided by the course facilitator in a nurturing, user-friendly environment, candidates are required to (1) attend a minimum of 80% of all classes; (2) demonstrate commitment to learning through active participation in class; (3) complete all written and practical assignments; and (4) complete resource files as required. Lastly, and most importantly, candidates are also required to implement knowledge acquired during the course by establishing art teaching programmes in the schools from which they are drawn. Progress with establishing art in the curriculum at these schools is monitored by the course facilitator.

The Programme is supported and consolidated by the Western Cape Education Department through their Subject Advisors for art who expedite the supply of materials and equipment to the schools concerned.

learning materials

Because exhibition catalogues are often expensive and academic in nature, the Education Department produces more accessible enrichment material on exhibitions in the form of relatively cheap education pamphlets. Informed by the research underpinning exhibitions, these pamphlets are available in the Gallery Shop, SANG Library or directly from the Education Office. While they are produced for the public at large, they also serve as curriculum enrichment material for students using SANG as a learning resource.

Students and researchers should note that while education pamphlets focus primarily on exhibitions and information about Invited Artists, the SANG Library compiles comprehensive information on individual South African artists. This information is housed in what is known as the "Art Boxes", which contain newspaper articles, exhibition catalogues, reviews of exhibitions, pamphlets and slides. Art Boxes have been compiled for, among others, the following acclaimed South African artists: Jane Alexander, William Kentridge, Willie Bester, Penny Siopis and Keith Dietrich. Inquiries about the Art Boxes should be directed to the Library.

education on the Internet

As an educational tool, the Internet offers tremendous possibilities for communication, research, teaching and learning. The SANG Web Site already allows users to tour online versions of exhibitions, gather images from the Permanent Collection, and access information about programmes. While the Education area is somewhat limited at the moment to an education package developed for a specific exhibition, we are currently developing a richer, more dynamic site which connects teaching and learning to the resources of the museum. Not only will the entire spectrum of educational activity at SANG be online, but also curriculum materials that will bring the museum into the classroom such as lesson plans for teachers, teacher kits, activities for students and handouts. Also see Reference library

an ednet project: a tale of four cities

The Education Department is currently participating in an exciting new project which connects children from around the world through the Internet. Initiated by Fiona Bailey of the Photographer's Gallery in London, the project links young people from London with those from New York, Nairobi, and Cape Town. Youth from the Lotus River Community Group have agreed to be the South African participants and have been busy writing letters and making pictures to send to their new friends in London. They will not only learn about the Internet and computer technology, but also what life is like for youth of their age from all over the world - the kinds of things they enjoy, what life is like in their cities, what school is like, and what their dreams are for the future.

In the initial exchange of letters, youth from London and Lotus River communicated about a variety of things that effect them in their daily lives. The Lotus River group described the community in which they live, their environment, what school is like and the sports they enjoy playing. One letter from the London group described the excitement felt when hoisted on top of the shoulders of their friends to watch President Mandela's motorcade drive through their neighbourhood in London. Another group from London described what it's like to visit the busy weekend markets, describing in particular the smells of spices on display. The Lotus River group taught the London youth some Afrikaans expressions and they wait anxiously for the London group to teach them some words from the many languages spoken in this multi-cultural city. The Lotus River group has also expressed some concerns about the violence in their area and their desire to grow up in a peaceful city. The groups have also shared more banal, but important information that informs the lives of young people such as favourite television shows, favourite food, current hairstyles, and clothing fads. Based on the communications to date, the project is proving to be an enlightening and bridging experience for the participating children.

All of the email communications between the children in these four cities have been amalgamated and turned into a website which was launched on 9 October 1998 as part of an international exhibition in Hong Kong. The web address is and can be found in the 'Projects' section under 'Programme.

the education collection

In the 1980s, only objects with a specifically tactile character were collected for what was then known as the Touch Gallery Collection. These objects were exhibited in the then Touch Gallery and were intended primarily for users who were visually impaired. In the 1990s, when the Education Department assumed a more acute Reconstruction and Development profile, the Touch Gallery became the Annexe Gallery with a related collection known at first as the Annexe Collection and then the Education Collection. This Collection, comprising all work acquired since the inception of the Touch Gallery, consists of the following:
1. Work with a specifically tactile quality collected for use by the visually impaired
2. Work made by participants in workshops run by the Education Department
3. Work purchased for specific exhibitions, e.g. African ritual objects for the Made to Move (1992) exhibition
4. Community art acquired with a view to highlighting the work of marginalised artists
5. Work acquired for a specifically didactic purpose
Today, the Education Collection is used as a learning tool and for exhibitions in the Annexe Gallery.

schools programme learning to look; looking to learn

education at SANG for pre-primary and primary schools

At SANG, introducing and connecting learners from the pre-primary, primary and high schools to the diverse and fascinating world of art is a priority for the Education Department, as it links education in communities with the museum. Our approach to learning is student-centred. Using art as a resource for visual information about various cultures, personal experiences and issues, we encourage learners to look, probe, enquire and question. In short, we use artworks in a way that allows young people of all ages and backgrounds to actively construct meaning for themselves from their own perspective.

Although the focus is always on teaching students how to look at, appreciate and gain knowledge and insight from artworks, looking and learning is also aimed at developing cognitive skills. By encouraging discussion and the exchange of ideas around the meaning of artworks, we also nurture critical and creative thinking, respect for the views of others, self-expression, deductive reasoning and listening, communication and debating skills - skills which have application in any subject or field of interest, and vital for growing independent thinkers. So, in the end, education at SANG is designed to enhance the development and academic achievements of all school-going learners.

The most common activity for primary schools visiting SANG is the guided tour where the focus is on object-centred learning, i.e. learning through direct contact with, and experience of, objects. The Education Department also, however, organises activity involving learning through making. In this regard, tours are often linked to, and complemented by, workshops which build on, consolidate and amplify aspects of what pupils have learned on a tour. For example, if the focus of the tour has been a particular technique, theme or idea, the workshop is designed accordingly, so enriching and integrating the pupils' experience at SANG.

Apart from the above, the Education Department organises holiday workshops of various kinds.

education at SANG for high schools

As with pre-primary and primary schools, education at SANG for high schools encourages an open-ended, student-centred approach to teaching, in keeping with Outcomes Based Education (OBE). While the specific focus is to teach visual literacy using exhibitions as primary resource material, we also aim to enhance basic life skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and verbal articulacy.

Education at SANG provides for all high school learners as exhibitions at SANG provide a platform for engaging cultures, individual experience, themes in South African social and political life, and issues of common interest. The Education Department, however, offers a more concentrated experience for students studying art at school as our aim is to link teaching and learning in schools with the resources of the Gallery. In this regard, some services are valuable as learning resources for students and teachers when used in conjunction with, and to consolidate, aspects of the school syllabus. These include exhibitions, guided tours of these exhibitions, the Invited Artist Programme and curriculum enrichment materials in the form of education pamphlets and worksheets.

Contact - Iziko South African National Gallery (SANG)