Perdeby Experience: We tour the Old Arts Building with Campus Tours


Every week, Perdeby sends their journalists to experience something out of their comfort zones. This week Lorinda Marrian and Tayisiya Rozova took a tour of UP’s Old Arts Building with UP Campus Tours.

How many of us have passed the Old Arts Building without even giving it a second thought? Well, our fellow students, it is time that we enlighten you as to the treasures (actual gold treasures) that have been carefully stored away in the 106-year-old building.

As soon as we started our tour we were instantly captured by our guide, Liezie Calitz, who was not only incredibly knowledgeable, but who was also gracious and exceptionally funny. The first thing that we learned was that the Old Arts Building was the first completed building on campus, and once hosted all the faculties and classes at the university. The building was proclaimed a national monument in 1968 and was officially designated a museum in 1982. The building houses The Mapungubwe Gold Gallery, The Letsopa African Ceramics Gallery, The Van Tilburg Art Collection Gallery, UP’s archives, a variety of ceramic exhibitions, and a tribute to the University’s centenary celebrations.

We started our tour at the Mapungubwe Gold Gallery, which is filled with a variety of intricately made golden artefacts that once belonged the people of the Kingdom of Mapungubwe, who lived approximately between 1075 and 1220 in what would be modern day Limpopo. We were both shocked to discover that besides the famous golden rhino, that there was also a golden feline and a golden buffalo.

We then moved on to the Letsopa African Ceramics Gallery, which hosts a range of pottery found at Mapungubwe and at K2. The ceramics ranged from large pots to tiny “pinch pots” in which one can still see the nail indentations and finger prints of their creators. After this, we moved on to a part of the ceramic collections, which much to Tayisiya’s delight and surprise, included a small section of Mayan artefacts. We then moved into The Van Tilburg section of the museum which consists of a range of artworks and artefacts donated to the University by J.A van Tillburg in 1976. In this collection of artworks, we were shocked to find an original Rembrandt.

Lastly, we entered into the university’s centenary tribute section. The room is filled with a range of photographs and descriptions about the university from its inception. However, we were most delighted with the photograph and the story of how during the early years of RAG a student was put into a small spaceship. The spaceship was left in public view, however, the students forgot to inform the army or the air force, which resulted in a panicked military that actual thought that it was a real UFO sighting.

We were especially impressed with the diversity of the collections in terms of their age, as well as location in the world. We would both definitely come back again and we encourage everyone to come and see the exhibits. Entrance to the Museums are free, however if you would like to have an in-depth understanding of the exhibitions, we suggest you book a tour with Campus Tours.

Campus Tours is a student run organisation under the university’s Department of Historical and Heritage Studies and work in collaboration with their silent partner Enterprises University of Pretoria. Campus Tours includes a variety of guided tours through UP Museum Collections, the Botanical Gardens and trips to the SCI-ENZA and Camera Obscura. Weekday tours are presented at R75 an hour per guide. Anyone wishing to make a booking can contact Campus Tours at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 012 420 5155.


 Photo: Rebecca-Anne Perridge. your social media marketing partner

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