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Johannesburg Art Gallery's Amazing Hidden Treasures

After years of dangerous neglect, the archives of the legendary institution are being unpacked.

29/11/2017 15:20 SAST | Updated 30/11/2017 14:12 SAST

The embattled Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) is exhibiting its archive of paintings, decorative objects, sculpture and literature, after the invaluable collection was nearly destroyed by water damage earlier this year.

The exhibition, titled "Spellbinding: Myths, Mysteries and Hidden Treasures", comes weeks before the JAG announces its new chief curator, after long-time curator Antoinette Murdoch stepped down amid the crisis over the heritage-status building's maintenance.

HuffPost spoke to young curator Tara Webber about the exhibition, in which priceless contemporary works by European masters like Salvador Dali, Henry Moore and Francis Bacon, are displayed alongside historical pieces from the across the globe.

"There is a crisis in terms of archives in this country, and it's very much linked to the fact that we need to start digitising what we have and drawing attention to the archives as a resource –– a site of storytelling and really critical information," Webber said.

The 100-year-old Johannesburg Art Gallery was closed for three months this year, after its building in Joubert Park in the Johannesburg CBD was badly damaged by heavy rain. The damage meant exhibited artworks were forced off the walls into storerooms and the basement.

An extensive audit of the damage to the building and collection has been conducted by staff over the past six months, and will be released in the coming weeks. But in the meantime, the gallery's extensive collection of objects will be exhibited to the public.