Charles Paul Nel born, 3rd October 1878, on Bruintjieshoogte Rietfontein in the Somerset East District. His family moved to Oudtshoorn in 1884 and established themselves at Kandelaars river.
He joined the Oudtshoorn Volunteer Rifles at a very young age, became a very prominent soldier. Took part in the Bechuanaland campaign and Aglo-Boere war. He excelled in the ranks until colonel. Also become a well-known businessman all over the Southern District and in 1936 he retired from being a businessman. Through all these years as a soldier, he started a hobby of collecting medals and regimental insignias which led to the establishment of a Museum. Outside of these collections, he also collected weapons, bicycles, and later vehicles.
His collection was first housed at his brothers’ house Louis, where he stayed in Queen Street 123. Which became too small quickly.
In 1937, he rented a double room of the Advertising agency in the Municipality owned building, in St. John Street. He officially opened the doors to the public on Wednesday, 1st December 1937, only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. In November 1938, the Historical Monument Commission recognized his Museum collection and in the same year the room was given freely unto him.
It did not take too long for the double room space to became small for the collections. He had to make plans for another and bigger building to house his collections. In February 1940, he bought a central building in town, in High Street 140 which was known as the “Van Vuuren Annex”. It was previously the private hospital of Dr. Raubenheimer and much earlier the Girls High School. Got funding the same year from the Financial Committee of the Town Council to pay the janitor, taxation, and electricity.
Governing Body (Board of Trustees):
It became a concern to C.P Nel what will happen to the Museum after his death, because he did not have any heirs. He came to a decision with the Town Council in accordance with the Museums Ordinance 6 of 1944 that the Museum be handed over to a Board of six (6) members. The Board was officially established on the 10th of February 1950. The necessary documents were drafted, and title deed was signed by C.P Nel a day before his death.
In 1972, CP Nel Museum moved from High Street to this current building which is the old Boy’s High School building. After the Girl’s and Boy’s High School were amalgamated into the current Oudtshoorn High School. This saved the building from being demolished.
The Boy’s High School was design by the architect Charles Bullock in 1906 and built by the Rogers Brothers in 1907. The school hall was design by J.E Vixseboxse in 1913. This building is regarded as one of beautiful examples of sandstone buildings erected during the so-called ostrich “Boom” period in Oudtshoorn during 1900-1914. With the clock, donated by Gert C. Olivier, in the tower. This building was used for 57 years for a school and will be 116 years old this year 2022.
The Name of the Museum:
The Museum was named after C.P Nel as the founder of the Museum. Through his private collections of medals, regimental insignias, weapons, bicycles, vehicles, and musical instruments and the Museum was proclaimed as a Province-Aided Museum in the Official Gazette of the Province of the Cape of Good Hope, dated 10 February 1950 –Proclamation 26 of 23 January 1950.
The Strategic Goals of the Museum is the promotion, development, and transformation of the Museum in order to contribute towards:
• Nation building
• Social Cohesion
• Increasing wellness
• Good governance
• Social and human capital development
• Sustainable economic growth and opportunities
Vision and Mission Statement
To deliver an effective service in order to further the collection of the CP Nel Museum for the benefit of the people of Oudtshoorn, the Little Karoo and all visitors to the museum
To identify, collect, document, research, preserve, exhibit and promote the cultural heritage of Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo and to preserve it for future generations. Through its collections, the CP Nel Museum wishes to:
• make the inhabitants of the Little Karoo aware of their unique
cultural heritage
• build bridges amongst its various communities
• be a virtual image of the uniqueness of the Little Karoo to national and international visitors
Institutional Values
The CP Nel Museum is an a-political, educative institution that aims to be of service to the community of Oudtshoorn and the Little Karoo, all South Africans and international visitors. Our services are rendered in terms of the Batho Pele principles.
The Museum stands for:
• Democratic values
• The recognition of human rights
• Responsible and accountable government
• The principles of mutual trust and co-operation
New Museum Logo
This concept combines the Human Figure and the Ostrich Feather into one symbol. It tells the story of the people of Oudtshoorn, their unique identity, culture, and their central role in the Ostrich industry.

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