The Foundation was established in Cape Town and has been promoting cultural ties between the Netherlands and South Africa for many years. The trust fund established in 1978 by Sippo Johan van Ewijck van de Bilt (1902-1979) has grown steadily over the years thanks to sound investment on the local stock exchange. Mr van Ewijck was a Dutch businessman who lived alternately in South Africa and the Netherlands for about 40 years. He nurtured a particular love for South Africa, however. He and his wife, Mrs T.T. van Ewijck, were the owners, amongst others, of the Binnehuis shops in Cape Town and Somerset-West that sold quality furniture.
The couple accumulated a valuable collection of blue and white oriental porcelain, Dutch silver, copper and glassware, and furniture in Cape Town. Upon Mrs van Ewijck’s return to the Netherlands in 1981, these collectibles were presented to the former South African Cultural History Museum (now the Slave Lodge and part of the Iziko Museums) where the collection was exhibited on the first floor from 1981 to 2003 in a spacious room known as the Dutch Room or the Van Ewijck van de Bilt Room.
The first meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Van Ewijck Foundation was held on March 3, 1980. On this occasion, the following members were present: Mr HC Sandrock (chairman, lawyer and friend of the Van Ewijcks), Mrs Van Ewijck, Dr AJ Böeseken (well-known historian), Mrs MA Bax-Botha (cultural historian) and Prof. Roy Pheiffer (professor of Afrikaans linguistics). Mr Piet Westra was a trustee from 1982 and Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1984 to 2008. He was succeeded in 2008 by Prof. Chris van der Merwe. The current chairman is Prof. Wium van Zyl. The Board of Trustees consists of a number of local experts.