A Brush With Brilliance: The Best Art Galleries In Cape Town

best art galleries in cape town

All of our content is written by humans, not robots.

You don’t need to be an art buff to appreciate the vibrant art scene that Cape Town has to offer. I can definitely appreciate an aesthetically pleasing wall piece, but I think we all know art is more than just decorations for your living room. So, I set out to explore what the art galleries in the Mother City have to offer.

My expectations were far exceeded. Each gallery was a treasure trove of artistic expression, showcasing South Africa’s rich history and culture. Through the art, I gained a profound appreciation for the resilience and spirit of the South African people.

If you appreciate history, learning, and creativity, I highly recommend visiting Cape Town’s art galleries. Art has the power to transform and inspire, even for those who aren’t art experts.

I learned a lot from visiting some of these art galleries and it’s one of the best things the city has to offer. This is why I felt compelled to share some of my favourite places so that everyone has a chance to experience what Cape Town’s art scene has to offer.

Best For Contemporary Art: Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art

Zeitz Museum Of Contemporary Art is a public, not-for-profit institution dedicated to exhibiting, collecting, preserving, and researching contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora
  • Address: Silo District, South Arm Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
  • Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 – 18:00
  • Cost: R230 per adult, children under 18 enter for free


This is the largest museum of contemporary art in Africa, so how can it not be the first on my list of galleries to visit in Cape Town? I’ve walked past this magnificent building during trips to the V&A Waterfront many times before deciding to pay the museum a visit. This concrete building is pretty impressive itself.

This gallery is massive and to properly visit each of the exhibitions you need to make a day out of it. I went in the afternoon and stayed until it closed, which wasn’t nearly enough time to even make a dent in what Zeitz has to offer.


There’s a collection of art from all over the world, but I spent most of my time admiring the exhibitions showcasing African art, as there is so much about South Africa that I could learn from it.

You’ll find art in all forms here, from videography to sculptures. Some of the more modern work will be exhibited from a few months up to a year. However, there are also permanent collections.

I personally enjoyed the film installation by Zahia Rahman. His work focuses on decentralising the European perspective and will be on display until 24 March 2024. It’s definitely worth checking out!

Best For South African History: Iziko South African National Gallery

Iziko South African National Gallery hosts a vast and critically engaging collection of historical, modern, and contemporary artworks from South Africa and abroad
  • Address: Government Ave, Gardens, Cape Town
  • Hours: Monday – Sunday: 09:00 – 17:00
  • Cost: Adults: R40 | Children: R20 | SA passport holders & students: R20 or free on Fridays


This gallery showcases some of the most impressive historical, modern and contemporary art in Cape Town. When I first came to the Mother City, I actually stumbled upon this gallery by mistake – there’s an Iziko National Museum as well (which is where I meant to go). But, I’m happy I ended up at the gallery.

The gardens of the Iziko Gallery are pleasant to stroll through as you approach the large doors to the gallery.


The sculptures in this gallery are what really stood out to me. Getting up close and personal with The Butcher Boys (a life-sized sculpture by Jane Alexander that dates back to around 1985), was a cool, albeit slightly creepy, experience that made me wish they’d allow photography.

Besides the sculptures, the gallery is also home to various masterpieces from French, British, Flemish and many more international artists.

The South African National Gallery isn’t very big, so you can visit all the exhibitions within an hour or two.

Best For Emerging Artists: WHATIFTHEWORLD

WHATIFTHEWORLD is dedicated to ambitious solo projects and multi-disciplinary installations, fostering an environment that empowers artists to create impactful exhibitions
  • Address: First Floor, 16 Buiten St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
  • Hours: Monday – Thursday: 09:00 – 17:00 | Friday: 09:00 – 16:00 | Satday: 09:00 – 13:00
  • Cost: Free


For something a little different, this modest-looking gallery in Woodstock houses some of the edgiest art I’ve seen in Cape Town. The gallery truly succeeded in providing emerging artists with a space to express themselves.

Out of all the galleries in Cape Town, WHATIFTHEWORLD is the main hub for new artists and innovative contemporary art. Since its opening in 2008, the gallery has been a champion of creativity, giving a platform for fresh voices to push the limits of artistic expression.


WHATIFTHEWORLD’s curatorial approach is both daring and discerning, seeking artists who push the boundaries of traditional art forms and explore uncharted territories in the realm of contemporary expression. The gallery’s exhibitions are not merely displays of artwork; they are immersive experiences that challenge perceptions, spark conversations, and leave a lasting impression on viewers.

Stepping into a WHATIFTHEWORLD exhibition feels like embarking on an adventure into the unknown, where the only certainty is that you will encounter something fresh, unexpected, and thought-provoking.

Best For Modern Art: The Goodman Gallery

The Goodman Gallery  stands at the forefront of contemporary art in Cape Town
  • Address: 37A Somerset Rd, Green Point, Cape Town
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 – 17:00 | Saturday: 11:00 – 16:00 | Sunday: 12:00 – 16:00
  • Cost: Free


The Goodman Gallery is a must-visit for any art lover visiting Cape Town. This gallery is home to some of the most cutting-edge and thought-provoking contemporary art in the city. I was blown away by the creativity and originality of the work on display when I visited the gallery recently.


The Goodman Gallery’s dedication to showcasing emerging artists was truly remarkable. As someone who appreciates fresh perspectives, I was happy to discover the work of these talented individuals. Their pieces were not only visually captivating but also thought-provoking.

This art gallery also houses an impressive collection of works by renowned South African artists and photographers, including William Kentridge and David Goldblatt.

As I wandered through the gallery, I was captivated by the intricate details and storytelling in their work. The art here is made to connect with people from different backgrounds and even change the way we see the world.

Best For Photography: Blank Gallery

Blank Gallery is a 360 sqm gallery space in Woodstock, Cape Town
  • Address: 10 Lewin St, Foreshore, Cape Town
  • Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 – 17:00 | Saturday: 12:00 – 16:00
  • Cost: Free


Located in Cape Town’s busy Art District, Blank Gallery is a place for people who love photography. This is a special place for both professional photographers and people who just enjoy taking pictures, like me. As I walked down the lively streets, I was drawn to the gallery’s simple front, and I couldn’t wait to see what was behind that big front door. When I stepped inside, I was greeted by a large white space, where the gallery’s amazing exhibitions were beautifully displayed.


Zanele Muholi’s powerful portraits vividly depicted the LGBTQ+ community in South Africa, resonating with authenticity. Sabelo Mlangeni’s landscapes transported me to distant places, and Lyle Ashton Harris’s experimental works challenged my perspective on societal constructs.

Blank Gallery consistently demonstrates its commitment to cutting-edge photography through meticulously curated exhibitions, reflecting a keen attention to detail and a genuine love for the art form.

I really appreciated their dedication to education through its diverse workshops and talks, providing valuable insights for both aspiring photographers and art enthusiasts eager to explore the world of photography.

Best Experience: SMAC

SMAC is a contemporary art gallery with spaces in Stellenbosch, Cape Town & Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Address: 1st Floor, The Palms, 145 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 09:00 – 17:00 | Saturday: 10:00 – 15:00
  • Cost: Free | Workshops all have various fees


Discovering SMAC Gallery in Cape Town, known for its unique and engaging art experience, was a delightful surprise. The gallery’s welcoming atmosphere and diverse artworks made my visit enjoyable.

I’d highly recommend taking part in one of the workshops! I had the opportunity to attend a printmaking workshop, which was led by an experienced artist who shared tips and techniques for creating unique prints.

The workshop was a great way to learn more about printmaking and to improve my skills. This was definitely one of the coolest experiences for me, as I also got to network with artists and learn from their experiences as this is a world that is quite unfamiliar to me.


The gallery’s spacious and well-lit exhibitions provide a perfect backdrop for showcasing the works of renowned and emerging artists. The diverse range of styles and mediums on display ensures that there is something to pique the interest of every visitor, from abstract paintings to captivating sculptures and thought-provoking installations.

The workshops and talks they host from a variety of artists are what made it stand out to me out of all the galleries in Cape Town.

Best For First Thursdays: Youngblood-Africa Gallery

Youngblood-Africa Gallery is an art gallery and cultural event space
  • Address: 70, 72 Bree St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
  • Hours: Monday – Friday: 09:00 – 17:00 | Different times on First Thursdays
  • Cost: Free


While checking out Cape Town’s art scene during First Thursdays, I discovered Youngblood Gallery. Its electric atmosphere immediately sucked me in. This gallery has been providing Cape Town art lovers with some of the best contemporary art since 2009.

Stepping inside was like walking into an art club. I could immediately tell it was the place to be for local emerging artists to meet other people with similar interests. It’s like a playground for artists and the imagination!


The exhibition space in this gallery is both super modern and very versatile and there was even a DJ playing when my partner and I went. I’m not a big fan of partying, but this is the tasteful kind of “clubbing” that I could definitely get behind.

The only downside was that it was pretty packed, although this is to be expected on First Thursdays. They do have multiple floors to explore so you can easily spend a fair amount of time wandering around here.

You’ll find art in all forms here. From photography to sculptures, Youngblood has something for everyone!

Best Family-Friendly: Norval Foundation

Norval Foundation is an art museum and center dedicated to the research, education, and exhibition of 20th and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond
  • Address: 4 Steenberg Road, Tokai, Cape Town
  • Hours: Monday & Wednesday – Saturday: 09:00 – 17:00 | Sunday: 10:00 – 16:00
  • Cost: Adult: R80 | Under 18: free


While traversing the scenic landscapes of Cape Town, I discovered the Norval Foundation nestled in the tranquil Winelands foothills. Stepping onto its expansive grounds felt like entering a sanctuary where art seamlessly coexists with nature, creating an inviting atmosphere perfect for families seeking a fun and artsy day out.

There are few galleries I’ve been to that seem as child-friendly as this place is. And not even to mention the absolutely breathtaking location. The landscape is basically as good as the actual art.


The diverse range of styles and mediums, from contemporary paintings to captivating sculptures and interesting installations, catered to a wide range of interests and ages. This is definitely the kind of place to bring my kids to, especially if you have a budding artist on your hands.

One exhibit that I particularly liked was The Power of Play, which explored the role of play in human development and creativity. Through interactive installations and multimedia exhibits, the exhibition showcases the transformative power of play in fostering imagination, problem-solving skills, and social-emotional growth.

Best For Street Art: Worldart

Worldart is a contemporary art gallery with a focus on urban contemporary aesthetics
  • Address: 54 Church St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
  • Hours: Mon. – Fri. 10:00 – 17:00 | Sat. 10:00 – 13:00
  • Cost: Free


Embarking on a journey through Cape Town’s bustling streets, I discovered Worldart—a haven for street art enthusiasts, casual observers, and avid collectors alike. Tucked within the city’s vibrant landscape, Worldart welcomes street art enthusiasts, casual observers, and avid collectors alike.

Personally, I didn’t think I’d enjoy this art form, but it really exceeded my expectations.


In addition to its exhibitions and events, Worldart also offers a curated selection of street art merchandise, allowing visitors to take a piece of the gallery home with them. From limited-edition prints and posters to unique apparel and accessories, there is something to capture the imagination of every street art enthusiast.

Overall, I believe that the “Problem Child” exhibition that I saw on display in October 2023 was a truly transformative experience for me. By challenging our perceptions of sweets and biscuits, Wilkinson prompts us to question our relationship with food and the larger implications of our consumerist culture. This will undoubtedly inspire many interesting discussions among everyone who sees it.


Who is South Africa’s most famous artist?

South Africa has a rich and vibrant art scene, and there are many talented artists who have made significant contributions to the country’s art history. However, some of the most famous South African artists include:

  • Irma Stern: A painter who is known for her bold use of colour and her expressive brushwork.
  • William Kentridge: A painter, printmaker, filmmaker, and animator.
  • David Goldblatt: A photographer who is known for his powerful black-and-white images of South Africa’s apartheid era.

What art is South Africa known for?

South Africa is known for a diverse range of art, especially in the art galleries in the Mother City. The most popular art forms include painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking, and performance art. The country’s art has been shaped by its history and culture, and it often reflects themes of social justice, identity, and the human condition.

Some of the most distinctive features of South African art include:

  • The use of bold colours and patterns: This is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage.
  • A focus on the human figure: This is a reflection of the country’s history of struggle and resilience.
  • Political and social commentary: This is a reflection of the country’s ongoing struggles for equality and justice.

What is First Thursdays in Cape Town?

First Thursdays is a monthly event in Cape Town, South Africa, where art galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions stay open late on the first Thursday of every month. It’s a popular event for locals and tourists alike, and it is a great way to experience Cape Town’s vibrant art scene.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For Tourism Companies

Work With Us

For Hospitality Brands

Send Us An Enquiry

For Photographers

Submit Your Work

Our Destinations