Museums in Graaff Reinet

The museums in Graaff Reinet are in significant Cape Dutch buildings and so I urge you to spend time exploring them and understanding the town’s history. There are several museums: Reinet House, Urquhart House (including the Military Museum), the Old Residency, and the Old Library, and there are also two Art Museums – the Hester Rupert Art Museum and the Jan Rupert Centre. 

I visited the Hester Rupert Art Museum last year and loved the Jean Lurçat Tapestry Exhibition in the Jan Rupert Centre this year.

Reinet House was built as the Vicarage of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1812 and has famous double stairway at the back of the house. Inside it is filled with beautiful stinkwood and yellowwood furniture, and down below the cellars are packed with exhibits. In the yard the functioning Mill and a Wagon House are contemporary buildings, dating to the 1970s, but built in style.

Reinet House

Reinet House

The interior of Reinet House

STinkwood & yellow wood furniture in Reinet House

The kitchen in Reinet House

The Mill, Reinet House

The Wagon House, Reinet HouseThe Wagon House, Reinet HouseThe Old Vine, Reinet House

Urquhart House was built between 1806-21. It became the Midland Hotel (with an additional wing) and c.1878 (below) probably was close to the original building. It was later modernised into a Victorian style and by 1988 (below) was unrecognisable. Restoration returned the building to its original appearance. The house is named after Herbert Urquhart MBE (1867-1943), who was born in Kensington, UK, and became Graaff Reinet’s longest serving Mayor.

Urquhart House when it was the Midland Hotel
Urquhart House when it was the Midland Hotel
Herbert Urquhart MBE
Herbert Urquhart MBE
Urquhart House in 1988
Urquhart House in 1988
Urquhart House in 1991 being restored
Urquhart House in 1991 being restored
Urquhart House today
Urquhart House today

The rear of Urquhart HouseThe rear of Urquhart House

The Military Museum between Urquhart House & Reinet House
The Military Museum between Urquhart House & Reinet House

The Old Residency dates from c.1820 and houses two interesting collections: the William Roe Photography Exhibition and guns from the Jan Felix Lategan Collection. William Roe was very active, photographing troops during the Anglo-Boer War,  Graaff Reinet and its citizens, and the surrounding countryside. and some of his wartime photos

William Roe

Millions of springbuck used to roam in the Karoo but as farming expanded the need to preserve the sparse grazing for sheep and cattle increased and the buck were hunted out, as the photographs below show in the collections of hunting rifles.

Hunting party in 19th century Karoo
Hunting party in 19th century Karoo

And in a corner this beautiful painting by Jimmy Boonzaier about whom I can find no information on the internet. Help?

The Old Library dates to 1847 and houses a number of exhibitions including fossils, bushmen paintings, fracking, Robert Sobukwe, and carved furniture. I posted quite fully last year so here is just a reminder – do visit!

Bushman painting

Carved furniture in the Old Library, Graaff Reinet

All this visiting and exploring was hard work and refreshments were sorely needed!

Further information
Graaff Reinet – excellent source of information!

 

 

 

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