Sitting pretty between two of the Joburg’s most successful recent city regeneration precincts, Braamfontein and Maboneng, JAG is primed for rediscovery by the city’s new urban trendsetters and Afropolitan glitterati. As a part of the efforts to make sure the Gallery is in glamorous shape for its centenary celebrations later this year, the leaking roofs are being deconstructed and reconstructed, the air conditioning repaired, and a little TLC renovation work planned on the exterior.
“To me, the first priority is to secure the leaking roofs, which pose a major threat to the valuable artwork hosted in the gallery”, says chief curator Antoinette Murdoch. But she admits that other aspects of international museum standards also need serious attention – these involve temperature, humidity and lighting. In addition structural problems, as well as wear and tear to the façade of the building need attention and the security system also needs to be updated. “JAG is our heritage and we should work together to restore it to its former glory” says Murdoch. It underlines her mission to engage with the surrounding community.
There are approximately 100 000 people who live in JAG’s immediate neighbourhood. As a major focus of urban regeneration programmes, the gallery provides the base for the Joubert Park Public Art Project and is developing links with awareness groups and community centres based in the surrounding urban area. JAG’s position on the recently instituted Rea Vaya CBD circular bus route provides further easy access to a much broader community.
In an effort to return the JAG swag and ensure that our public collection is properly taken care of, the City of Johannesburg (COJ) has allocated an amount of R24,000,000 for the restoration of the buildings, which will take place under heritage supervision over the next three years (2014 – 2017). This amount however is not sufficient and fundraising is ongoing in order to complete refurbishments.
One way the public and corporates can contribute to the Gallery funds, is to join The Friends of JAG – a volunteer organisation that endeavours to find innovative ways to raise funds for the gallery’s activities and educational programmes. A recent initiative sees the Friends of JAG collaborate with the South African Mint for the release of three special sterling silver Johannesburg Art Gallery Centenary commemorative medallions. A homage to JAG’s original Lutyens building, the medallions show signature architectural motives from Lutyens’ original JAG building. The medallions will be unveiled at the 2015 FNB Joburg Art Fair, held from 11 – 13 September at the Sandton Convention Centre. A portion of proceeds from the sale of the medallions will go to benefit of The Friends of JAG.