Presentation by Robin Lee: History of the De Wets Huis Photographic Museum: 1983 to 2016

Presentation by Robin Lee: History of the De Wets Huis Photographic Museum: 1983 to 2016

De Wets Huis

The Photographic Museum is part of the Old Harbour Museum, which is itself a Provincial Museum, operating within the legislation and regulations of the Provincial Museum Services. It is housed in a small building within the space generally known as “Lemm’s Corner”.

Hermanus was more aware of photography in its early years than most towns due to the fact that T D Ravenscroft (1852-1948), a photographer of national significance and with patrons such as Cecil Rhodes and Sir William Hoy lived in Hermanus for the last 30 years of his life and preserved a large number of photographs of the town. These and many other images contributed by less well-known people accumulated over the years. But without a dedicated space and proper storage conditions the ‘collection’ was in danger of decaying or disappearing.

An enlightened Curator of the Old Harbour Museum Dr. Oskar Prozesky took practical steps to deal with the problem. In 1983 he obtained a building that would be suitable from the Dutch Reformed Church in Hermanus and then de-constructed and stored it in a manner that will be described in the presentation. Prozesky left soon after this but was succeeded by Guy Clarke who in due course reconstructed the building and in 1987 there was a grand opening of the new Museum. Both these steps will be described

In the late 1990s and early 2000s important developments took place, especially as regards the ‘digitisation’ of the images, especially the very old glass negatives. This process will also be described. The presentation will conclude with a short projection of some especially interesting images of historic significance.