Located right next door to the highly esteemed Steenberg Wine Estate in Cape Town, the Norval Foundation is a brand-new centre for the research and exhibition of 20th and 21st Century visual art. Having just opened its doors to the public at the end of April, the Norval Foundation welcomes guests to engage in a great range of enchanting activities, from guided tours of the fascinating exhibits and getting wonderfully lost in the sculpture garden, to enjoying a glass of wine in the elegant upstairs bar and sitting down to lunch or dinner in its contemporary eatery, Skotnes.
This is the Norval Foundation.
The lifeblood of the Norval Foundation – the art exhibits – have been provided by the Norval family whose aim it has been to create a self-sustainable centre for art and a platform for local and international artists. The Homestead Art Collection, which has been lovingly assembled by the Norval family for over the past two decades, is regarded as one of the leading collections of 20th Century South African art, with works by Peter Clarke, Sydney Kumalo, Ezrom Legae, Irma Stern, Trevor Makhoba, Edoardo Villa, Anton van Wouw, and the restaurant’s namesake, Cecil Skotnes, and more.
The Norval foundation is also home to Bruce Campbell Smith’s Revisions Collection and the Edoardo Villa Estate Collection, amongst others, and boasts a research library whose shelves groan with an extraordinary assemblage of literature and publications on South African art.
The art installations in the various exhibit rooms tell the captivating and often tragic stories of talented artists whose suffering is a recurring theme amongst their people, allowing the visitors an intimate and emotional glimpse into their culture, struggle, and unique journey.
The Norval Foundation’s enormous, state-of-the-art building is an architectural marvel to behold; yet despite its scale, it has been considerately designed to empathize with its environment without disrupting the neighbouring wetlands’ delicate ecosystem that is home to the endangered Leopard Toad. It draws 50% of its energy needs from roof-mounted solar panels, while all grey water is treated and re-used to keep the sculpture garden watered and lush.
A persistent theme in the design of the Norval Foundation is the respect it pays to nature. In every exhibit room, high windows allow natural light to flood in and give visitors a sense of the outdoors, while, in the upstairs exhibit, panels displaying artwork stand side-by-side with floor-to-ceiling windows that afford breath-taking views of the gardens, which are wrapped respectfully around the protected wetlands.
In this way, the Norval Foundation is as much a celebration of visual art as it is of nature, allowing visitors to steep in the stunning natural surroundings while appreciating the creative expression of local and international artists.
What better way to conclude a lengthy amble around an art museum than with a little wine and a fine meal? Named after legendary South African artist and teacher, Cecil Skotnes, The Norval Foundation’s resident restaurant is trendy and contemporary with uncompromised views of the spectacular sculpture garden and the dramatic Constantiaberg beyond.
Executive Chef Phil de Villiers extends the theme of celebrating South African culture well into the menu, which is inspired by local cuisine with a contemporary twist, while the wine menu is fantastically diverse, representing both the well-known, heavy-hitting estates and the smaller, off-the-beaten-track boutique wineries.
Cape Town’s Newest Art Scene
Under the visionary guidance of Executive Director Elana Brundyn and her team of museum professionals, the Norval Foundation has successfully established a platform upon which art predominantly from South Africa can be showcased, celebrated, and enjoyed. From its eight enormous exhibit spaces to a gorgeous and kaleidoscopically colourful sculpture garden, the Norval Foundation is a proud monument to art, to nature, and to the fine experiences locals and tourists alike have come to expect from our beautiful city.