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Walter Battiss Art Museum

Somerset East, Eastern Cape

Professor Walter Battiss is one of the best known and most prolific of South African artists. He is considered to be the best exponent of water colour painting South Africa ever had, and his ground-breaking abstracts are both fresh and innovative.

The Walter Battiss Art Museum in Somerset East is housed in a lovely old building – the Officer’s Mess - dating back to 1818 when Somerset Farm was set up for Lord Charles Somerset. Between 1914 and 1917, the Battiss family hired the building and ran it as a private hotel. Two the mayors of the town acquired the building in 1973 and donated it to become the museum which was opened in 1981, shortly before Prof. Battiss died in 1982.

Battiss donated a collection of over 70 of his works, as well as books, clothing, and family mementos. The collection includes oils, watercolours, screen prints, and drawings, and shows the depth of his artistic genius, as well as the range of his work ranging from eccentric abstracts to realistic drawings and watercolours. There are items representing the history of his family, letters he wrote, as well as a collection of books from his personal library.

The museum is manned from 9.00am until 13.00pm, and then from 14.00pm until 17.00pm on week days, but may be closed at times so it is best to call before visiting. Appointments may be made to visit on Saturdays and public holidays.


Cnr Beaufort Street & Paulet Street, Somerset East

Opening & Closing Times:

Monday to Friday 8.30 until 13.00 and 14.00 until 17.00