Wits History of Art is engaged in multiple contemporary practices that include curating exhibitions, publishing print portfolios, hosting seminars and workshops, 3D modelling of rock art sites, advising prominent art collections, and collaborating with a beadwork collective. Our practice extends across teaching, learning, research and public engagement.

Visiting researcher – Leslie Wilson

Wits History of Art welcomes Leslie Wilson who is visiting South Africa as part of her doctoral research on the development and popularization of color photography in South Africa.

Visiting researcher – Katharina Jörder

Wits History of Art welcomes Katharina Jörder who is visiting South Africa as part of her doctoral research on the photography of the apartheid regime between 1948 and 1989.


title: a group exhibition collectively curated by eleven postgraduate students in History of Art, ran from 4-7 November 2015 at The Point of Order,

Citizen Science Research with Wits History of Art

Citizen Science is defined as “the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis.”

50/50 at The New Church Museum

Art historian and curator Rory Bester has selected works from the museum’s permanent collection and augmented these with loans that reflect on the patterns of repetition and recognition in turning over and overturning of art histories.

Magaliesburg Writing Retreat (2015)

In early June 2015, postgraduate students in the ‘Writing Art’s Histories’ course accompanied Justine Wintjes, Joni Brenner, Stacey Vorster and Laura de Becker on a writing retreat to an incredible yoga retreat nestled in the rolling hills of the Magaliesburg.

Print Portfolio 2

We have started a scholarship fund for postgraduate study and research at Wits History of Art. Part of the University’s Century Campaign, this fund aims to become a R22-million endowment by 2022.

Nontobeko Ntombela in the News!

Wits History of Art staff member Nontobeko Ntombela was one of the 12 women curators featured in an article titled “Where hypervisibility meets true transformation in the arts” written by Nadine Botha and published in the Mail & Guardian in March 2015. Read the full article here: http://mg.co.za/article/2015-03-05-where-hypervisibility-meets-true-transformation-in-the-arts “Nontobeko Ntombela, formerly a curator at the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG), describes hypervisibility as a form of ridicule: “Here’s a few black women curators so let’s put them out there and promote them as hard as we possibly can, without giving people the opportunity to really produce quality work, again as another gatekeeping strategy because how long do those people last? They’re there for a moment, they serve a purpose and then they are rejected.” After two years as curator of contemporary collections at JAG, Ntombela was “angry” with the establishment and systematic gatekeeping when she left in 2012. She went on to found the curatorial studies course at Wits University and sits on the advisory committee for the department of arts and culture, among a very long list of other accolades. “The idea of the establishment becomes even more complex: Who are you talking about in terms of the establishment? It’s neither white nor black. It’s a mix of everybody, but what the establishment understands and frames as giving value to art is the larger question,” Ntombela says. “I’d rather produce shows that I’ve invested research, time and space into, which academia allows for. It was frustrating being part of that hypervisibility and need to curate as many shows as possible, rather than develop a...

Great Zimbabwe on CNN

Postgraduate student, Griffin Shea, published an article on CNN about the History of Art postgraduate excursion to Great Zimbabwe. Read it here.

Wits History of Art and WAM win the VC Teaching Award

The 2014 Vice-Chancellor’s Team Teaching Award was made to the “Lifelines: Object Biographies from the Standard Bank Art Collection” project in the Faculty of Humanities – a collaboration between the Wits Art Museum and the Wits School of Arts’ Department of History of Art. The project involved tracing the history of art objects in the Museum and using historical and contemporary objects to advance teaching and learning. “The team’s multi-modal pedagogical approaches to postgraduate teaching which included reading, experiential engagement with objects, and the critical thinking and creativity that is required for curatorial activities, was found to be innovative,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, Prof. Andrew Crouch. Find out more about Lifelines: Object Biographies from the Standard Bank Art...

Condition Report

Condition Report Art exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery Curated by University of Witwatersrand Curating Exhibitions Students Opening 29 October 2014 at 6pm Condition Report is a group exhibition that offers visitors a rare opportunity to glimpse the fascinating world of curating. Produced by postgraduate students from the Curating Exhibitions course at the Wits School of Arts, the exhibition offers a series of responses to rarely seen objects from the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) collection, including German Gothic wooden sculptures, Chinese ceramic roof tiles and Indian temple figures carved in stone. According to JAG’s contemporary art curator, Musha Neluheni, “these are the oldest objects owned by the museum. They were brought to South Africa under mysterious circumstances in the 1950s and 1960s and do not fit in with the rest of the JAG collection, which mostly comprises European and African art from the 17th century onwards”. The student curators interrogate these objects, their position, and histories, grappling with the truths about the objects, and revealing the realities of curatorial processes that are often hidden from the audience. Condition Report consists of twelve individual statements within one exhibition. It offers individual interpretations of these objects whilst at the same showcasing the students’ collective thinking in putting this show together. The displays extend to other collections within JAG, allowing the audience to view more pieces from this world-class collection. The title, Condition Report, refers to the conservation and presentation aspects of a curator’s relationship with artworks. As an artwork moves from dealers to collections to exhibitions, curators make notes through “condition reports” that are used to track aspects of the physical...

Wits History of Art is about a community of practice, within and outside the University. For their contributions, participation and support in making Wits History of Art a special place, we would especially like to thank: Leigh Blanckenberg Wits Art Museum (WAM) Lerato Bereng Stevenson Gallery, Johannesburg Jillian Carman VIAD University of Johannesburg Clive Chipkin Architectural Historian, author of Johannesburg Style Paul Davis Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa (CCAA) Laura de Becker Wits Art Museum (WAM) James French Bag Factory Michael Godby Michaelis School of Fine Arts, University of Cape Town David Goldblatt Photographer Joseph Gaylard formerlyVANSA Khwezi Gule Hector Pieterson Museum Sarah Hallatt Bag Factory Jeannine Howse Gordon Schachat Collection Ra Hlasane Keleketla Library, and Wits Fine Arts Tom Huffman Wits School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Science Euridice Kala Independent Curator Clive Kellner Gordon Schachat Collection Loren Landau Wits Forced Migration Studies Emma Laurence Goodman Gallery Kate Lewis Artist David Lewis-Williams Wits Rock Art Research Institute Portia Malatjie Independent Curator Bettina Malcomess Wits Fine Arts Edward Matenga University of Great Zimbabwe Gideon Mendel Photographer Dilip Menon Wits Centre for Indian Studies in Africa Tiffany Mentoor Market Photo Workshop Muzi Msimanga Filmmaker Riason Naidoo Iziko South African National Gallery Musha Neluheni Johannesburg Art Gallery Anitra Nettleton Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa (CCAA) Siona O’Connell Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town Renaud Proch Independent Curators International (ICI) Claudia Marion Stemberger Independent Curator Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa (CCAA) Amy Watson Independent Curator Rat Western Fine Arts, Rhodes University Gavin Whitelaw KwaZulu-Natal Museum Nelisiwe Xaba Artist