The Ostrich Feather Boom period at the beginning of the 20th Century allowed the local enthusiasts to build new schools in the area. This led British architect, Charles Bullock to open his office in Oudtshoorn in 1903. In the same year the Cape Superintendent of Education, Thomas Muir recommended they build a new boys school to replace the school of 1881. The plot was bought for £6000 (R12 000) and a building tender of £7850 (R15 700) was accepted. In 1907 this beautiful sandstone building was officially opened as the Boys High School. In 1907 a Dutch architect, Mr Johannes Egbertus Vixeboxse joined Bullock’s Oudtshoorn firm.

Over the years he too was responsible for a number of Oudtshoorn’s famous ostrich palaces. In 1912 the school hall (now Rembrandt Hall) was added. The hall had been designed by Vixseboxse in the true traditional New Republican style. The third role player in the CP Nel Museum saga is Charles Paul Nel, a military, businessman and collector of antiques. So valuable was his collection that by 1938 the collection had received full recognition from the Historical Monument Commission.

When he passed away in 1950 the newly constituted Board of Trustees took over administration of Nel’s collection. In 1963 when both Oudtshoorn boys’ and girls’ schools amalgamated, the 1903 school building was in such a state it was nearly demolished. Consequently as a result of a petition and intervention by former old boys, the building was saved. The old school building was made available for CP Nel’s collection. The collection was moved over and in 1972 the CP Nel Museum was officially opened in Bullock and Vixseboxse’s old school building.

In 1980 the building complex was declared a National Monument. Through the valiant efforts of a few old boys and other role players in Oudtshoorn the continued existence of the old school building and CP Nel’s valuable collection of 40 years back secured for the future.

Ostrich Feather Farming brought unparalleled prosperity to the Klein Karoo during the late nineteenth century. A legacy from this economic “boom” is the distinctive sandstone architecture, which includes the so-called ostrich feather manors. Quite a few have been preserved and declared as national monuments. The Museum represents some of the finest sandstone architecture in the Little Karoo.

The Tour

  • Ostrich Hall
  • Street Scene
  • Military
  • Store
  • Synagogue
  • N.A. Smit
  • Music Room
  • Bedroom
  • Dining Room
  • Transport
  • Natural History
  • School Hall

Get in Touch

Contact Details
Telephone: +27 44 272 7306
Fax: +27 86 553 9226
Email: info@cpnelmuseum.co.za
Website: www.cpnelmuseum.co.za

Entrance Fee

Adults: R30
Children: R5
Pensioners: R10


Opening Hours

We are open from:
Mondays – Fridays: 08:00 -17:00
Saturdays: 09:00 – 13:00
Sundays & Public Holidays: Open on request


3 Baron van Rheede Street