The Pretoria Art Museum is an art gallery occupying an entire city block bounded by the Park, Wessels, Schoeman and Johann Streets in Pretoria. The museum was established to house the City Council of Pretoria's Art Collection, which has been built up since the 1930s.
The collection received a windfall in 1932 when Lady Michaelis bequeathed a large number of artworks to the city council after the death of her husband, Sir Max Michaelis. This consisted mainly of 17th-century work of the North Dutch school. South African works included pieces by Henk Pierneef, Pieter Wenning, Frans Oerder, Anton van Wouw and Irma Stern.
The collection was originally housed in the Town Hall. As South African museums in Cape Town and Johannesburg already had good collections of 17th, 18th and 19th century European art, it was decided to focus on compiling a representative collection of South African art. Aside from these artists, work by Hugo Naude, Maggie Laubser and others was acquired.
The purchase of international work was focused on more affordable graphics prints from Europe and USA. More recently there has been greater emphasis on contemporary South African art and building a more representative historical collection, as well as traditional arts and new media.
After the death of the sculptor Lucas Sithole in 1994, half of his unfinished work was donated to the museum. The South African collection now also includes work by Gerard Sekota and Judith Mason. Since the mid-1990s, the Sasol New Signatures competition is also held at the museum.