Between Dreams and Realities : A History of the South African National Gallery, 1871 – 2017
Between Dreams and Realities is a celebration of South Africa’s heritage and cultural wealth; it contributes to the fields of museum, heritage, cultural and curatorial studies, as well as visual and art history. It opens up the discourse and revives interest in public art museums in general and in the national art museum in particular, while offering perspectives on the future, and galvanising custodians and the public into action.
Written by Marilyn Martin, a former director of the South African National Gallery, Between Dreams and Realities is based on extensive research and experience. This book revisits important exhibitions, events and forgotten controversies; it highlights the achievements of directors, who often faced political agendas and strained relationships within and outside the institution. Between Dreams and Realities considers the aspirations and role of civil society in creating and maintaining a national institution for the common good. Concurrently, the book examines long-standing government disinterest and neglect for the museum, and the difficulties that confronted directors in acquiring a collection worthy of its status. It also tells the story of excellent public cooperation and support, and of boards of trustees, directors and staff together overcoming the realities of budget cuts, government interference and severe space constraints.