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Makerere Art Gallery was founded in 1969 as exhibition space for the growing collection of art works by faculty and students of the renowned Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts.[1] This collection, gathered from the early days of the art school in the 1940s, is today the only historic collection of modern Ugandan art. Since Uganda does not have a National Gallery of Art or any comparable institution with a mandate to collect art works the university collection is filling this gap. The art collection is a unique resource for local, national, and international researchers. The Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration has recently been founded under the roof of the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) and is located in the Makerere Art Gallery within the campus of Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts (MTSIFA). Its mandate is to safeguard Ugandan objects of cultural heritage for posterity and to carry out scholarly research.

Constructed with funds from Gulbenkian Foundation, Makerere Art Gallery is a modern spacious building with ample lighting and comfortable exhibition space for art. The gallery was able to accomplish an important and unique collection of art works which comprises paintings, sculptures, wood prints, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, photographs, and design works. Many of these art works have arisen from the artistic involvement with traditional materials and techniques, while others reflect cultural heritage such as indigenous traditions, patterns and beliefs. Their contents revolve around political and cultural history, changes in society, developing modernity, influences of religion and intercultural exchanges.

The school of fine arts, today named Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, at Makerere University was the first – and for many years the only – institution of formal art education in East Africa. Through the first three decades the school was characterized by various regional and international influences. Lecturers and students came from various Sub-Saharan countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. The collection is of great significance for Ugandan art but also beyond, representing a big part of modern art production in East Africa.

The art school stayed open through the repressive regimes of Obote and Idi Amin in the 1970s/1980s but a large number of teaching as well as studying artists went into exile. The ones who stayed have expressed what they have lived through in their art works. In 1985 Jonathan Kingdon, a former Head of the art school, invited Makerere artists to display the works in an exhibition entitled “The art that survives: Uganda ’60s-’80’s: the Makerere Community of Artists work, from before during and after the Idi Amin regime”.[2] Ten years later, the exhibition “Seven Stories of African Art” held in 1995 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London featured several Makerere alumni.[3] Currently, a growing interest in the history of art in Uganda and scholarly activities can be stated as proven by the number of dissertations in this field. Among these are the doctoral theses of the American art historian Sunanda Sanyal (2000),and George Kyeyune (2003), Kasule Kizito Maria (2003), Angelo Kakande (2008), and Amanda Tumusiime (2010) from Uganda.[4] All these scholars refer to the gallery collection as an important resource.

Director: Dr. George Kyeyune
Curator: Katrin Peters-Klaphake

[1] Daler, Judith von: A New Gallery in Kampala. In: African Arts, Vol. 4, No. 1 (Autumn, 1970), pp. 50-52

[2] Tharani, N. (1985) The Art that Survives – The Makerere School of Fine Art. Africa Events February 1985

[3] Deliss, C. & Havell, J. (1995) Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa. London: Whitechapel.

[4] Sanyal, S.K. (2000). Imaging art, making history: two generations of Makerere artists. Dissertation, Emory University. Kyeyune, G. (2003). Art in Uganda in the 20th century. Unpublished dissertation, School of Oriental and African studies, University of London, London. Kasule, K. M. (2003) The Renaissance of Contemporary Art at Makerere University Art School. Unpublished dissertation, Makerere University, Kampala. Kakande, A. (2008). Contemporary art in Uganda: a nexus between art and politics. Dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Tumusiime, A. (2010). Art and gender: Imag(in)ing the new woman in contemporary Ugandan art. University of South Africa, Johannesburg.

Makerere Art Gallery cropped LR

Makerere Art Gallery. Photo by Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa

George Kyeyune is a painter and sculptor and Senior Lecturer at Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts and Director of Makerere Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration. In 2003 he gained his PhD at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, with his dissertation on “Art in Uganda in the 20th Century”. From 2006 – 2010 he served as Dean of MTSIFA. With Kann artist group he built a monument for the 2007 CHOGM meeting in Kampala, and with Maria Naita he created a sculpture for the celebration of Uganda’s 50 years of independence. In 2013, he received a Fulbright Scholarship for his research on “The Drawing of a Curriculum to Address Developments in Uganda’s Modern Art” at Emory University, Atlanta.

Katrin Peters-Klaphake is a curator at Makerere Art Gallery/Institute for Heritage Conservation and Restoration (IHCR) and lectures at Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts (MTSIFA), Makerere University, Kampala. She is in charge of the exhibition program and the care of the gallery’s art collection. Among others, she co-curated the local section of the exhibition project Visionary Africa – Art at Work 2012 in Kampala and was a founding member the Kampala contemporary art festival KLA ART 012 in the same year. Recent activities include collaboration with History In Progress Uganda (HIPUganda) photography project, serving as a jury member for the annual Uganda Press Photo Award (UPPA) and being on the curatorial team of the Portfolio Meetings, a master class for photographers in sub-Sahara Africa. She co-authored “Just Ask! From Africa to Zeitgeist” (Ed. by Simon Njami, Berlin 2014) a handbook style publication for photographers. Recently, Peters-Klaphake has co-curated the itinerant exhibition project Kabbo ka Muwala – The Girl’s Basket. Migration and Mobility in Southern and Eastern Africa in collaboration with the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Städtische Gallery Bremen and the University of Oldenburg, Germany. Currently, she is a core member of the research team in a project on African Art History and the Formation of a Modern Aesthetic, a collaboration between the Iwalewahaus, University of Bayreuth, the Museum of World Cultures, Frankfurt, and Makerere Art Gallery/Institute for Heritage Conservation and Restoration, Makerere University Kampala, Uganda.


  1. Lukenge kamya rich permalink

    We as young artist we have hope in this facility that shall serve us all and our interests ,however government and other stakeholders should help improve the facility(gallery) with creating more space that can support more than a single exhibition at a time and also be able to accommodate more works to meet the growing number of artist in Uganda, east Africa and the world at large……LUKENGE Kamya Richard 11/U/2013 third year student MUK 2013

  2. Ainomugasho Lillian permalink

    Indeed that’s a good idea because makerere art gallery was the first gallery in Uganda so it should be supported by expanding it in size and improve on its architectural design so that it reflects the art pieces displayed in it

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