The CP Nel Museum is much appreciated by visitors' world wide for its variety of beautiful displays.


Even if you are not very interested in the historical side of life, you should experience the C.P.Nel Museum, one of the best country museums in South Africa, situated in Oudtshoorn, the heart of the Klein Karoo. The C.P. Nel Museum is also the only museum with a Synagogue inside - still in use. Shortly a review about the role of 3 famous persons at the Museum's post, Bullock, Vixseboxse and Nel and the role they played in the building's existence. The Ostrich Feather Boom period at the beginning of the 20th Century allowed the local enthusiasts to build new schools in the area. This led British architect, Charles Bullock to open his office in Oudtshoorn in 1903. In the same year the Cape Superintendent of Education, Thomas Muir recommend that a new boys school be built to replace the school of 1881, The new and bigger building had to be "best modern type and worthy of the place…" The plot was bought for £6000 (R12 000) and a building tender of £7850 (R15 700) was accepted. In 1907 this beautiful sandstone building was officially opened as the Boys High School. The building reflects a late Victorian Colonial style of a classical building. The 30m high tower is decorated with Corinthian ornaments, with oxtangoual "koepel" rounded off with a wrought iron crown. On both sides of the central clock tower the façade is structure symmetrically designed. Both sides end with verandas bolstered by sandstone pillars in the Tuscany building style. In 1907 a Dutch architect, Mr Johannes Egbertus Vixeboxse joined Bullock's Oudtshoorn firm. Over the years he too was responsible for a number of Oudtshoorn's famous ostrich palaces. In 1912 the school hall (now Rembrandt Hall) was added. The hall had been designed by Vixseboxse in the true traditional New Republican style. The third roleplayer in the CP Nel Museum saga is Charles Paul Nel, a handered military, businessman and collector of antiques. So valuable was his collection that by 1938 the collection had received full recognition from the Historical Monument Commission. When he passed away in 1950 the newly constituted Board of Trustees took over administration of Nel's collection. In 1963 when both Oudtshoorn boys' and girls' schools amalgamated, the 1903 school building was in such a state it was nearly demolished. Consequently as a result of a petition and intervention by former old boys, the building was saved. The old school building was made available for CP Nel's collection. The collection was moved over and in 1972 the CP Nel Museum was officially opened in Bullock and Vixseboxse's old school building. In 1980 the building complex was declared a National Monument. Through the valiant efforts of a few old boys and other roleplayers in Oudtshoorn the continued existence of the old school building and CP Nel's valuable collection of 40 years back secured for the future.

Explore the Museum

Visiting Hours

  • Monday to Friday

    8:00 Am to 5:00 Pm

  • School Appointments
  • Saturday

    9:00 Am to 1:00 Pm

  • Tourist Appointments
  • Sunday & Public Holidays

    Open on Request

  • Tour Guides are Available in English & Afrikaans
  • Museum History


  • RECOGNITION

    The museum was the first in the country to receive the Award of Accreditation in 1982.
    It also received a four-star rating in 1983.

    LE ROUX TOWN HOUSE

    In 1909 the farmer, Mr. J.H.J Le Roux, had an attractive sandstone town house built for him and his family.
    Charles Bullock, the architect combined various stylistic features to convey an impression of complexity, playfulness and luxuriance.
    One of the unique features is the Art Nouveau stained glass panels.
    The house was declared a National Monument in 1980. Today the Le Roux Town House forms part of the CP Nel Museum.  It is the only feather boom period house open for the general public.

    MAIN BUILDING

    The CP Nel Museum is much appreciated by visitors' world wide for its variety of beautiful displays.

    In 1972 the C.P. Nel collection was brought to its present home, the C.P. Nel Museum (3 Baron van Rheede Street) - the former Oudtshoorn Boy's High School. As a result of this, the sandstone building, with its prominent clock tower, designed by Charles Bullock and erected in 1906, was saved from demolition.
    The building as a whole dates back to the so-called second "ostrich feather boom" (1900 - 1914) and was declared a National Monument in 1981.
    The Museum owes its origin to the private collection of colonel Charles Paul Leonard Nel, successful businessman and collector of antiquities.

     

  • Areas on Display


    • OSTRICH HALL

    • BEDROOM

    • STREET SCENE

    • MILITARY

    • STORE

    • SYNAGOGUE

    • NA SMIT

    • MUSIC ROOM

    • DINING ROOM

    • TRANSPORT

    • NATURAL HISTORY

    • SCHOOL HALL

A BIT OF HISTORY:

Ostrich Feather Farming brought unparalleled prosperity to the Klein Karoo during the late nineteenth century. A legacy from this economic ``boom`` is the distinctive sandstone architecture, which includes the so-called ostrich feather manors. Quite a few have been preserved and declared as national monuments.
The Museum represents some of the finest sandstone architecture in the Little Karoo.

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