A Leaky Roof Has Forced the Johannesburg Art Gallery to Temporarily Close

But there’s some good news to comes out of this soggy situation

Wikimedia Commons

Johannesburg Art Gallery, the largest art gallery in southern Africa, has a problem as serious as its art collection is impressive: The roof is leaking and has been since 1989.

Now, Lynsey Chutel at Quartz Africa writes, heavy rains have forced the gallery to temporarily close until the leak has been fixed.

As Tshepiso Mametela reports for CityBuzz, city councilor Nonhlanhla Sifumba issued a statement on Wednesday, explaining extensive water damage from January storms served as the necessary impetus for the closure:

“The incident forced gallery staff to move artworks from the walls to storerooms and the basement. Also, we could not risk the lives of our employees after emergency services, occupational health and safety, and risk management were called to the scene and advised that the facility be closed.”

With over 9,000 works of art in its collection, the gallery houses a selection of renowned art from around the world and in its own backyard, including pieces by greats like black South African art pioneer Gerard Sekoto, landscape artist Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef and abstract painter Walter Battiss, writes Barbara Speed at The Culture Trip.

The elements aren’t the only reason that the gallery's infrastructure is in a state of disrepair. As Garreth van Niekerk reports at 24.com, over the years, thieves have also stolen copper sheeting from the structure, further weakening the building’s standing.

Sifumba blames the previous administration for allowing the situation to get this bad. “Nothing was done to upgrade and maintain the facility despite millions being allocated for this purpose prior to its 2015 centenary celebrations,” she tells Chutel.

The gallery hopes to at least partially reopen by May when an exhibition by Mozambican artist Ângela Ferreira is planned.

But there’s some good news to comes out of this soggy situation. As Amah-Rose Abrams writes for artnetNews, the new management is using the renovation as an impetus to give the gallery a more contemporary African focus when it next opens its doors.