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Meet art maven and museum director Elana Brundyn – Woman and Home Magazine

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South Africa’s rich arts and cultural tapestry is a testament to the nation’s complex history and vibrant diversity and museums – more often than not – act as the space for us to appreciate these invaluable treasures and artefacts.
Elana Brundyn, pioneering museum director, is a name that stands out in the realms of South African museums, having made a huge impact on the arts and culture landscape of South Africa.
Brundyn’s impeccable professional credentials forged over a 25-year-long career. From gallerist to museum director and esteemed art consultant, she established herself as something of a force in the arts milieu in South Africa.
But it is her broader reputation as a passionate proponent of the arts, her innate ability to identify talent, her sincere approach to nurturing artists, and her capacity to make intuitively led, tailored connections at all levels – from collectors to other stakeholders – that have contributed to her high regard and continuing success in her field.
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Elana Brundyn’s journey to becoming a museum director is a fascinating one.
Born and raised in South Africa, she developed a deep appreciation for art and culture from an early age. Her educational journey included a degree in Fine Arts and Art History, which laid the foundation for her career in the art world. Brundyn’s academic background gave her the knowledge and insight necessary to navigate the intricate world of museums and curatorial work.
One of the most significant milestones in Brundyn’s career was her role as the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA). This world-class institution, located in Cape Town, is the largest museum of contemporary African art on the continent. Brundyn played a pivotal role in its inception and success.
Under her leadership, Zeitz MOCAA became a beacon of contemporary African art, showcasing the work of both established and emerging artists from across the continent. The museum’s striking architectural design, housed in a converted grain silo, is a testament to Brundyn’s vision of combining art and space to create a unique and immersive experience for visitors. It is a place where art and culture come alive, transcending boundaries and fostering a deeper understanding of African contemporary art.
 
 
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Elana’s impact now goes beyond the walls of Zeitz MOCAA. She is renowned for her dedication to promoting African art globally. Her efforts to forge international partnerships and collaborations have brought African artists to the forefront of the global art scene. Through exhibitions, cultural exchanges, and collaborations with museums and institutions worldwide, Brundyn has ensured that African art receives the recognition and appreciation it deserves on the international stage.
With the launch of her latest endeavour, Brundyn Arts & Culture, in Cape Town in June 2023, this internationally renowned thought leader and taste shaper has brought her longstanding vision to life of creating an art consultancy with the heft to leave a more pronounced impact within the arts ecosystem, both on the African continent and abroad.
Brundyn Arts & Culture’s offering is extensive, encompassing advisory services to museums and non-profit organisations, private collectors, corporations, and creative practitioners, as well as in-depth art and educational programs in museum-standard exhibition spaces.
When BA&C formally opened its doors to the public as a collaborative exhibition space, visual artist and photographer Lebohang Kganye’s body of work titled Mmoloki wa mehopolo: Breaking Bread with a Wanderer, was the perfect choice to showcase. Her life-size figures and photographs project into and onto the exhibition space, becoming part of a new story.


As the founding CEO of Norval Foundation – which launched in 2018 as a cultural platform dedicated to the exhibition, interpretation, and archiving of 20th and 21st-century art from Africa and its diasporas – Brundyn worked with an accomplished curatorial team and mounted several major exhibitions.

Some of these include Wim Botha’s Heliostat, William Kentridge’s Why Do I Hesitate and Jackson Hlungwani’s Alpha and Omega.
While at Norval, she also helped to establish and adjudicate the Norval Sovereign African Art Prize, which recognises the practice of significant contemporary artists working today.
The annual Cape Town Art Book Fair—South Africa’s first book fair celebrating visual art and art publishing—was also her initiative, as was Collector’s Focus, a series of curated exhibitions and talks highlighting the role of collectors in shaping culture, recognising the value of art and igniting interest in artists. This series was established to commend the unique contributions that private and corporate collectors play in the preservation and evolution of fine art. B
rundyn played another pivotal role in the establishment of the Norval Foundation Sculpture Garden, which features 21 three-dimensional, installation-based artworks—including Wind Sculpture SG III (2019), by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare (CBE), the only monumental sculpture by the artist on the African continent.
Led by a desire to share her knowledge and contribute her substantial business influence beyond her own endeavours, Brundyn has been an engaged and active member of a variety of considered boards and committees. This has included the Mbokodo Women’s Awards Adjudication Committee, an advisory board member for the Harvard Centre for African Studies Advisory Board, and a trustee of the Gerard Sekoto Foundation, Norval Foundation, and Zeitz MOCAA.
Currently, Brundyn sits on the Board of Trustees for In Residence Foundation, Aspire Art Auctions and the Stellenbosch Outdoor Sculpture Trust, as well as Lalela, an educational arts charity for children in under-resourced communities.
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