The New Church Museum

WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo

Venues like The New Church Museum, a strictly non-commercial space in Cape Town, offer the public an opportunity to view their collection without any obligation to buy.

“We view the public themselves as walking, breathing museums at work, as collectors of memories and experiences,” says the museum’s director, Kirsty Cockerill. Kirsty likes to think of visitors collecting memories and images in the gallery for their own “mental Pinterest boards”.

“People also don’t have to worry about having prior knowledge of art,” she says, “as there’s always someone there ready to chat and answer questions.”

The museum is located in a beautiful old repurposed Victorian house, built in 1890, on New Church Street in Cape Town. When it first opened, passersby were confronted by a massive yellow wall with the words Please Don’t Kill Us, a sculpture by artist Cameron Platter. As of this week, a new sculpture by artist Kyle Morland has been erected in the front yard.

The new piece arrives in time for the opening of Thinking, Feeling, Head, Heart, a new exhibition that explores the resurgence of abstract art. Curated by Marilyn Martin, the exhibition, which will run for five months, features the work of contemporary South African artists such as Zander Blom, Nicholas Hlobo, Georgina Gratrix, Dineo Bopape and Ian Grose.

“We view the museum as a safe space for our contemporary cultural heritage. Although we have a few modernist works, the large majority of our collection is made up of contemporary pieces made post-1994,” says Kirsty.

The museum, which opened its doors a little over two years ago, is also the city’s first private art museum. It benefits from its founding benefactor Piet Viljoen’s collection of over 400 contemporary South African artworks.

Whether you’re a Cape Town resident, or simply visiting the city, this is one stop you should definitely make.

New Church Museum is located at 102 New Church Street, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town. Opening hours are from Tuesday to Thursdays from 12pm to 3pm and from 11am to 3pm on Saturdays. Admission is free. Visit to for more information.