Science meets imagination at Oliewenhuis


The Inquisitive Mind: Science and Imagination is a visual feast of collected heritage items from the collections of the National Museum, Bloemfontein, presented in collaboration with South African contemporary artists. This amazing exhibition can currently be seen in the Main Building of Oliewenhuis Art Museum and will last until
1 February next year.

Participating artists include Elrie Joubert, Dot Vermeulen, Barbara Wildenboer, Ben Botma, Janine Allen-Spies, Jaco Spies, Willem Boshoff and Carl Becker.

The idea of having an annual exhibition to specifically showcase an aspect (or aspects) of Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s mission was first conceived a few years ago.

This year Oliewenhuis Art Museum decided to ‘pair’ various departments of the National Museum with contemporary South African artists to realise collaboration between these departments and to create awareness of the work done at the National Museum in its entirety.

Staff members from various departments at the National Museum, including celebrated scientists and researchers, were challenged to look at their research and other work once more under the magnifying glass – this time their investigations, results and activities have been observed through the eyes of an artist, using this as inspiration to create an artwork.
This proposed collaboration combining research, education and an exhibition fits the mission of the National Museum perfectly: To provide heritage resources and an enjoyable experience to all people through quality research, conservation, education and exhibitions. It also relates very well to aspects of Oliewenhuis Art Museum’s mission – the promotion of arts and culture through collaborative projects and supporting and promoting South African and especially local artists by providing them with exhibition opportunities.

The National Museum is a diverse, multi-disciplinary heritage institution, managing significant collections and undertaking research and education in the natural sciences, humanities and visual arts. Various technical and administrative departments offer essential support to these key functions. Collaboration between the museum and external partners is encouraged and the institution enjoys numerous such partnerships. Internal multi-disciplinary collaboration is also encouraged, but is less frequent.

Rick Nuttall, Director of the National Museum, explains the significance of this project. "This exhibition has presented a wonderful, multi-faceted opportunity to foster collaboration not only within the National Museum, between the institution’s departments and staff, but also with new partners outside the museum, in particular a number of outstanding South African contemporary artists. Through this perhaps unlikely collaboration, new perspectives on the work, collections and activities of the National Museum have been discovered and created. Such creativity and discovery will doubtless serve to create a greater awareness of the varied, multi-faceted and significant contributions that the National Museum has made and continues to make to the broader heritage and research landscape, both locally and internationally."