The Gallery prides itself in the range and diversity of ethnographic collections under its custodianship and these include ceremonial functions which date back to the 1900s. It also has a magnificent collection of stone, wood and clay sculptures as well as paintings which bear testimony to the rich cultural beliefs of Zimbabwe and Africa at large. Most importantly, the collections reveal a striking aspect of our cultural history and development since the time of human habitation on the Zimbabwe plateau. Interestingly they corroborate the existence of a highly developed Zimbabwean material culture which demonstrate ingenuity and originality as well as a sophisticated understanding of the natural environment.
The gallery boasts of a wide range of basketry collection. This collection represents the major craft industries of the country, which date from pre-colonial times to independent Zimbabwe. Basketry provides “an outlet for the artistic aspirations of the makers and aesthetic fulfilment for the users”, Locke, 1994:14. The designs are an expression of beauty, culture, historical background, origins and imaginations of the Black people of Zimbabwe. Through basketry, “facets of the traditional way of life become apparent”, Locke, 1994:14.
The institution also has a wide collection of headrests, which were adapted as our Logo because of their outstanding aesthetic qualities. Their use dates back to the twelfth century and were first used at Mapungubwe. Archaeologists have also found gold-covered headrests at other archaeological sites in Zimbabwe. These were used for many purposes like religious functions as well as, for the general musings of the afternoon rest, Wood 1978. Headrests are not unique to Zimbabwe only. They are also used by the nomadic people of Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
The Gallery has documented much of Tonga cultural history through its wide collection of Tonga stools, doors, weaponry, as well as clay pots. These have been collected to encourage extra mural use of collections for the enjoyment of our audience. Interestingly, the gallery has documented the unique and greatly revered Tonga fishing and hunting prowess.
Of much interest to our audience is the wide-collection of paintings done on various media like parchment, wood, canvas as well as cloth. Paintings contribute to almost half of our collections. A glimpse is given to our audience at our upper and lower galleries.
Thus, the gallery prides itself in being one of the great edu-entertaining centres of Southern Africa because of the nature of collections!!