The Rupert Museum is a fine example of indigenous architecture, in the traditional style ´Boland farm architecture´. Indeed the cool spaciousness and simplicity of the clean white-washed walls and commanding wooden doors, almost give the impression of a Cape wine cellar, instead of an art museum containing precious works.
Rather than the traditional thatch roof, so typical of 17th and 18th century Cape Dutch architecture, the museum has a high corrugated iron roof – being much less susceptible to fire than the traditional thatch.
The South African paintings and sculptures are spread over two halls and displayed according to the visual harmony between pieces. Previous Museum Director, Deon Herselman points out that this is in keeping with Hubert Rupert’s wish for artwork not to be displayed according to a strict academic order in chronological or stylistic development.
Huberte Rupert did, however, consent to various issues of conservation and environment. Instead of fresh air and direct sunlight, as in a home, climate control has been installed to maintain temperature levels at a constant 21°C and humidity at 55 RH. In order to minimise the damaging effect of light, spotlights in the display halls use varying degrees of low-voltage lamps and will brighten to a pre-set intensity only when visitors are present. When no movement is detected i.e. after the visitors have left a display area, the lighting once again dims.
Nevertheless, contact with the outdoors is maintained through large oval windows set high into the museum walls. The rounded, bevel-edged skylights allow calm, diffused light to spill into the museum, whilst visitors can still glimpse outside, the blue Stellenbosch sky and the leaves of centuries-old oaks.