Tatham security boosted

2014-10-02 00:00

SECURITY is being bolstered at the Tatham Art Gallery following a spate of museum thefts in Pietermaritzburg.

The gallery, considered one of the major art museums in South Africa, dates back to 1903.

Deputy municipal manager for community services Boniwe Zulu told the Msunduzi Executive Committee recently that CCTV cameras and other hi-tech devices were being fitted in the gallery. In addition, security staff were being re-trained.

The Witness reported in January this year that the arts community was outraged by the brazen theft of four priceless dancing angels from atop a beautiful Ormolu clock housed at the gallery.

There were calls at that time that the municipality should step up security at the gallery.

Christopher Duigan, spokesperson for the Friends of Tatham Gallery, said at the time: “The gallery deserves world-class security measures because it is a world-class art gallery, and the collection is world class and should be treated as such”.

It was city centre ward councillor Judith Lawrence who raised the question of security at the gallery after a gold medal and leopard skin went missing from the Msunduzi-Voortrekker Museum at the beginning of August.

In mid-August, valuable rare coins and gold watches worth more than R200 000 went missing from the Macrorie House Museum in Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street.

To date, neither the angels nor the items stolen from the other museums have been recovered.

Besides the security upgrade, a number of maintenance projects are underway at the Tatham Art Gallery.

Director Brendan Bell said on the gallery’s website that in order to complete these projects, they had decided not to plan any further exhibitions until September 2015. This will affect the Schreiner Gallery and all temporary exhibitions, he said.

Deputy director Bryony Clark said the gallery was extremely grateful to the Msunduzi council for taking the protection of the city’s cultural heritage seriously and for making provision for electronic surveillance.

The Tatham Art Gallery is considered one of the seven major art museums in South Africa.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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