The Owl House Foundation

After her death in August 1976, Helen Martins' Owl House fell into disrepair and some articles were removed. Due to the outcry of concerned individuals, the property was transferred to the ownership of the Local Council. The property was 'tidied'. Support organisations - most notably the Friends of the Owl House and their primary sponsor, PPC Cement - made physical and financial 1991, FOOH brought Mr Koos Malgas - who had originally built most of the sculptures for Helen Martins - back to Nieu-Bethesda to restore and maintain the Camel Yard. It is thanks to these initiatives that the Owl House survives in relatively good condition today.

The Owl House Foundation is a Section 21 non-profit organisation [Reg.No. 99/00317/08]. It was formed in 1996 in Nieu-Bethesda by a grouping of local individuals, the Local Council, PPC Cement and FOOH in an effort to provide a more consistent and locally based administration for what is now recognised as a significant cultural heritage and tourist attraction. The Foundation administers the Owl House by legal arrangement with the local Council.

The aims of the Owl House Foundation are threefold:

  • To improve standards and service to the visiting public.
  • To safeguard and develop the Owl House as a vital community resource.
  • To implement maintenance and restoration programmes to ensure the long-term survival of this unique artistic heritage.

Autumn 2008 Newsletter: (Microsoft Word document)
English >>
Afrikaans >>

Restoration and Conservation

The Owl House, interior and exterior, represents a cohesive artistic environment - the significance of which is often interpreted by the connection and interaction of the individual components. The whole environment is characterised by the utilisation of commonplace materials in very unusual and unique ways, frequently purposes for which they were not manufactured. This - combined with the pressures of an ever-increasing number of visitors and the harsh climatic conditions - creates the need to devise a special set of conservation techniques. The Owl House Foundation is researching and employing contemporary materials and methods to combat these weaknesses. This is obviously a slow and expensive operation - but it is designed for long-term preservation. At the same time, the Foundation is conducting research into the state of the Owl House circa 1976. As each element is repaired and preserved, we will attempt to return it to its original state. This programme will include the return of various elements that have disappeared from the yard and, hopefully, a return to the original atmosphere of life and lustre.



Become a Member and Contribute to the Wellbeing of The Owl House:

The Foundation invites membership by annual subscription to individuals, families, or companies. Members receive regular newsletters, are updated on progress and events, and receive preferential rates for sale items.
Contact us for details at

Download an English membership form. >>
Download an Afrikaans membership form. >>


The Owl House receives no official subsidy. In the main, receipts from the gate are utilised for administrative costs and salaries, and for a fixed contribution to municipal income. Donations, sale items and membership subscriptions provide our primary funding for the restoration programme.

The Owl House Foundation is indebted to the following for assistance and/or sponsorship:

PPC Cement have been the principal patrons of the Owl House since the 1980's. Over and above financial contribution, PPC has consistently provided invaluable assistance with administrative and legal matters.

The Stella and Lorenzo Chiappini Cultural and Charitable Trust (via Syfrets)

SIKA (pty) Ltd

This website was initiated, designed and sponsored by FUR©.


This website is kindly hosted by Vanilla.

The Owl House Foundation is:

The Owl House Foundation (Non-profit Co: 99/00317/08)

Chairperson: Mr. Peet van Heerden; Vice Chairperson: Ms. Huldah van Wyk.

Directors: Dr. Bruce Lakie; Ms. Elsi O’Connell; Mr. Phillip Olifant (Camdeboo Municipality); Mr. Shaheen Salie (PPC Cement); Ms. Annemiek Schep; Ms. Terry Winship.

Admin Manager: Arno du Toit.

Patrons: PPC Cement; Chryso Chemical Solutions; Prof. Marianne McDonald (Ph.D., MRIA; Athol Fugard, playwright.