About the Collection
The National Gallery’s permanent collection is a living record of the growth and development of Zimbabwean art from its earliest stages to the present day. Prior to the establishment of the National Gallery in 1957, there was little focus on local art and individual artists worked in isolation. Annual exhibitions that came with the establishment of the Gallery established a forum for the display and exploration of local art thus establishing a standard for local art and providing a platform for interaction between established and amateur artists.
The Permanent collection is made up of approximately 6000 artworks of an eclectic nature embracing Zimbabwean, African contemporary works, English / European Old master artworks and traditional pieces. The greatest part of the collection is that of contemporary Zimbabwean artists which was collected during annual exhibitions.
The collection has been amassed over the years of the Gallery’s existence through purchases and donations. Significant donations were made by Sir Stephen Courtauld and Col R. H Whitwell who donated a bulk of the Old master European collection. Majority of the African artworks were purchased by the Gallery’s first director Frank McEwen when he travelled on several occasions to the West and Central African region while preparing for the first International Congress of African Art held in 1962. McEwen also travelled to Europe and other parts of the world on buying missions. The other works were purchased or donated to the Gallery during annual art exhibitions since 1957.
The collection demonstrates and contains the very best art making traditions in Africa and within it there are some insightful, delightful and rare pieces that are not only aesthetically beautiful but significant within the history of African art.
Scope of the Collection
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s collection endeavours to represent significant developments in Zimbabwean art. The works in the collection are of outstanding quality and importance defined by merit and the artist’s contribution to the history and development of Zimbabwean and international art. The selection process is therefore based on quality, significance of the artist and their contribution to the development of Zimbabwean art, and cultural significance of the artwork/ artefact(s).
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s collection is made up of about 6000 works that categorised as traditional African Pieces ( axes, Baskets, blankets, drums, headrests, knives, jewellery, mats, musical instruments pots, spears, stools walking sticks etc. traditional International pieces ceramics, furniture, glass paintings masks etc., European old master works (paintings and sculpture) African and Zimbabwean artworks.
Thought focusing on Zimbabwean and African art the National Gallery of Zimbabwe seeks to represent international modern and contemporary art in a global perceptive.