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Seen, Heard and Valued


Seen, Heard and Valued: Wits Art Museum celebrates 40 years of the Standard Bank African Art Collection.

The Exhibition at Wits Art Museum (WAM) highlights the critically acclaimed and diverse Standard Bank African Art Collection and the partnership that made the collection possible. Many people have shaped the collection over the four decades since its creation, and this exhibition, too, is shaped by multiple voices.

In 1979, Standard Bank and Wits University entered into an agreement to build the collection which now holds over 5000 artworks. Artworks come from different sources and are selected according to the goal outlined in the agreement of acquiring, preserving and exhibiting African art. While the collection mainly contains historical African artworks, there is also a small proportion of modern and contemporary South African artwork. 

The history and growth of WAM is closely linked to that of the Standard Bank African Art Collection. Wits was the first university in South Africa to include African Art in the Art History curriculum, and the collection was created primarily for research and teaching. To this day, the collection is deeply integrated into WAM’s exhibition, research and education programmes.

The exhibition’s title “Seen, Heard and Valued: WAM celebrates 40 years of the Standard Bank African Art Collection” refers to researcher and storyteller Brené Brown’s definition of connection as the energy between people when they feel seen, heard and valued. Featuring a selection of artworks from the collection, the exhibition invites the public to connect and engage with this extraordinary collection of African art.