First Thursdays Cape Town

Art After Hours – A Guide to Cape Town’s First Thursdays

First Thursdays in Cape Town turns the city’s art scene into a vibrant street festival, bustling with people both local and foreign. Here’s everything you need to know about this monthly celebration of art, culture, and community.

It’s a free cultural experience where art galleries and other cultural attractions in the city centre stay open late on the first Thursday of every month.

It’s a night that celebrates the rich tapestry of art, culture, and creativity that Cape Town is renowned for, transforming ordinary evenings into something extraordinary.

This event began in Cape Town in 2012, inspired by similar initiatives in cities like London and Zurich. The goal was simple: to make art and culture more accessible to the public and to energize the city bowl during evening hours. It has since become a staple for all to enjoy on Cape Town’s cultural calendar.

We’ve put together a summary list of key galleries and art spaces to consider. And if you’re a local or international visitor staying at one of our fantastic Cape Town hotels, you’re only minutes away from these.

 

AVA Gallery

Phone: 021 424 7436
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Showcasing the best in contemporary South African art, a range of innovative works from emerging and established artists.  Known for its commitment to showcasing a diverse range of South African art, AVA (Association for Visual Arts) Gallery provides a dynamic space where emerging talents and established artists converge.

It’s a thriving community hub where art lovers can engage with the creative process through exhibitions, workshops, and talks. With its ever-changing displays.

 

Goodman Gallery

Phone: 021 462 7573
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An international platform for artists who confront entrenched power structures, contributing to important socio-political discourse.  The Goodman Gallery in Cape Town is renowned for its pioneering role in contemporary art. With a legacy that spans over half a century, this prestigious gallery has been instrumental in challenging apartheid-era censorship and promoting freedom of expression through art.

Today, the Goodman Gallery continues to push boundaries, representing artists from around the globe whose work engages with crucial issues of identity, politics, and social justice. The space hosts thought-provoking exhibitions, cutting-edge installations, and engaging public programs that stimulate dialogue and understanding. 

 

Zeitz MOCAA

Phone: 087 350 4777
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The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town is a monumental beacon of modern African art, housed in a stunningly reimagined grain silo at the V&A Waterfront.

As the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world, Zeitz MOCAA is a cultural powerhouse that showcases a vast array of artworks from the African continent and its diaspora. Its innovative design, featuring over a hundred galleries spread across nine floors, provides an extraordinary space for exploring the rich and diverse tapestry of African identities, histories, and narratives.

The museum exhibits the private collection of its namesake, Jochen Zeitz, and hosts temporary exhibitions, installations, and performances by emerging and established artists. Zeitz MOCAA is a place of discovery, offering visitors a deep, immersive experience into the vibrant heart of contemporary African art and culture.

 

WHATIFTHEWORLD

Phone: 021 569 0680
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WHATIFTHEWORLD, is a contemporary art gallery that serves as a platform for a new generation of emerging South African and international artists. This innovative space is known for its bold and avant-garde exhibitions, showcasing a diverse array of mediums from painting and sculpture to installation and video art. WHATIFTHEWORLD is a creative incubator where artists are encouraged to experiment and push the boundaries of their practice.

The gallery has gained a reputation for identifying and supporting artists whose works challenge conventional narratives and explore contemporary social, political, and environmental issues. With its finger firmly on the pulse of the contemporary art scene, WHATIFTHEWORLD is a dynamic and inspiring destination for art lovers and collectors seeking to experience the cutting edge of creative expression. 

 

Stevenson Gallery

Phone: 021 462 1500
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Stevenson Gallery, with its spaces in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, is a major force in the contemporary art scene in South Africa and beyond.

This gallery is celebrated for its sophisticated roster of artists, including both established figures and ground-breaking newcomers from the African continent and around the world. Stevenson Gallery is committed to presenting ambitious exhibitions and projects that challenge and expand the boundaries of contemporary art.

The gallery’s exhibitions are thoughtfully curated, offering profound insights into the current cultural and societal landscape through a diverse range of media, from painting and sculpture to photography and video installations. Stevenson’s collaborations with artists often result in critically acclaimed solo and group shows that resonate with local and international audiences alike.

The gallery also actively participates in major global art fairs, further amplifying the voices of its artists on the world stage. For art enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in the latest trends and dialogues within the art world, Stevenson Gallery provides an essential and enriching experience.

 

Blank Projects

Phone: 021 462 4276
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An independent, artist-run gallery known for its avant-garde exhibitions, spotlighting underrepresented voices in the art world.

Blank Projects in Cape Town is an influential contemporary art gallery that has carved out a niche for itself within the local and international art scenes. Founded with a mission to provide a canvas for artists who are not only breaking new ground in their mediums but also engaging with the critical issues of our times, Blank Projects has become a space where dialogue, innovation, and experimentation are encouraged and celebrated.

The gallery’s minimalist aesthetic provides a blank canvas, allowing the art itself to take centre stage and speak directly to the viewer. With a keen eye for cutting-edge talent, Blank Projects represents a diverse array of artists whose works challenge conventional perspectives and invite audiences to rethink their understanding of art and its role in society.

Exhibitions at Blank Projects are meticulously curated, offering a dynamic and engaging experience that reflects the gallery’s commitment to fostering meaningful interactions between art, artists, and the public.

 

Everard Read Cape Town

Phone: 021 418 4527
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Africa’s oldest commercial art gallery, featuring an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional artworks.  Everard Read Cape Town stands as one of South Africa’s most prestigious fine art galleries, boasting a rich history that spans over a century. As the oldest commercial gallery on the continent, it has established itself as a key player in the global art market, representing a wide range of artists from South Africa and abroad.

The gallery’s elegant space in the heart of Cape Town’s vibrant V&A Waterfront is a pure commitment to excellence, showcasing an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional art across various mediums, from painting and sculpture to ceramics and photography. Everard Read is dedicated to nurturing the careers of its artists, promoting a dialogue between traditional and contemporary art forms, and fostering a deeper appreciation of the arts among its visitors.

With a reputation for curating exhibitions of the highest calibre, the gallery offers a sophisticated environment where art enthusiasts and collectors can explore works by emerging talents and established masters. Everard Read Cape Town is a cultural institution that continues to make a significant contribution to the arts landscape.

 

99 Loop Gallery

Phone: 021 422 3766
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Highlights the best of local contemporary art, with a keen eye for up-and-coming talent and a diverse range of mediums. 99 Loop Gallery in Cape Town is a vibrant showcase of contemporary art, standing out in the city’s bustling art scene with its focus on accessibility and innovation. The gallery is celebrated for its dynamic exhibitions that feature a diverse range of artistic expressions, from paintings and illustrations to sculpture and multimedia installations. 99 Loop Gallery is dedicated to discovering and promoting emerging South African artists, providing them with a platform to gain visibility and engage with a wider audience.

The gallery’s welcoming atmosphere encourages visitors to explore the cutting-edge of contemporary art in a relaxed and inviting setting. Each exhibition is thoughtfully curated to reflect the current trends and discussions in the art world, making 99 Loop Gallery a go-to destination for art lovers. By fostering a community of artists, collectors, and enthusiasts, 99 Loop Gallery plays a crucial role in nurturing the city’s cultural landscape and ensuring that art remains accessible to everyone.

 

SMAC Gallery

Phone: 021 461 1029
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A leading contemporary art gallery that plays a significant role in the South African art landscape, with a reputation for curating ground-breaking exhibitions. SMAC Gallery, with its strategic locations in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Stellenbosch, is a leading light in the contemporary South African art scene.

Known for its cutting-edge exhibitions and a strong focus on both historical and contemporary works, SMAC stands as a critical space for art that challenges and reflects upon both local and international narratives. The gallery is committed to showcasing a diverse portfolio of artists, offering them a prestigious platform to exhibit their work and engage with broader audiences. SMAC Gallery has carved out a reputation for presenting thought-provoking and meticulously curated exhibitions that explore a range of themes, from socio-political issues to the exploration of identity and the human condition.

SMAC plays a pivotal role in the development of contemporary art in the region. The gallery also participates actively in global art fairs, further extending the reach of its artists to an international stage. A visit to SMAC Gallery promises a deep and enriching experience, encapsulating the vibrant spirit and complexity of the times.

 

Eclectica Contemporary

Phone: 021 422 4145
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Focuses on African and diasporic art, offering a blend of paintings, sculptures, and multimedia works that reflect contemporary issues and narratives.

Eclectica Contemporary, is an art gallery that distinguishes itself through its unwavering commitment to showcasing contemporary African art that speaks to the rich and diverse cultural landscape of the continent.

African identity and its global diaspora. With a keen eye for talent and a passion for storytelling through visual mediums, the gallery represents artists who are at the forefront of contemporary art, both in Africa and internationally. 

 

Barnard Gallery

Phone: 021 671 1553
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Barnard Gallery in Cape Town is a contemporary art haven that bridges the gap between local and international art landscapes. Esteemed for its sophisticated and engaging exhibitions, the gallery is dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging and established South African artists, alongside notable international talent.

Barnard Gallery’s carefully curated shows are a testament to its commitment to excellence, featuring a diverse range of artistic mediums that include painting, photography, sculpture, and mixed media installations.

With a keen eye for artistic innovation and a passion for narrative depth, the gallery supports its artists in exploring and expressing contemporary themes and issues, fostering a dialogue between the art and its audiences. Barnard Gallery also extends its influence beyond the exhibition space through the publication of artist monographs and catalogues, contributing to critical discourse and providing a deeper insight into the artists’ work and intentions.

Visiting Barnard Gallery offers an intimate encounter with the pulse of contemporary art, where each piece is selected for its ability to challenge, enchant, and provoke thought. It stands as a pivotal space within Cape Town’s art scene, inviting art lovers, collectors, and critics alike to engage with the vibrant and dynamic world of contemporary art.

Things to Note

When exploring these galleries and art spaces during First Thursdays, keep a few things in mind to enhance your experience:

Some galleries hold special openings on First Thursdays, offering a chance to meet the artists and hear about their work first-hand.

Remember, galleries are spaces of creativity and expression. Be considerate of the artworks and the experience of others.

Aside from the main gallery attractions, look out for side events such as street performances, pop-up shops, and food markets that add to the festive atmosphere.

First Thursdays have a casual, festive vibe that is infectious. Streets buzz with excitement, galleries overflow with curious visitors, and the air is filled with the sounds of live music and chattering crowds. It’s an evening where the city’s creative spirit is on full display, and the vibe is nothing short of electrifying.

There’s no strict dress code, but comfort is key. Think smart casual or a touch of artistic flair to blend in with the creative crowd.

With so much to see, starting early ensures you can cover more ground without rushing

Check out the First Thursdays website or app for the latest exhibitions and map out your must-visit spots.