After years of hard work and fundraising, the new National Gallery finally flung its doors open to the public this month.
The whole idea behind the new facility, says National Gallery Director, Natalie Urquhart, is to create a community space that will be open and accessible to all. She hopes all residents and visitors will feel they can stop by at any time, whether it’s to browse the art collections, attend a special event or simply enjoy a coffee in the gardens. What is it?
The new National Gallery is far more than just a gallery: there are two linked buildings, one of which will house the exhibitions and the other being a dedicated Education Centre. The buildings are surrounded by three acres of landscaped gardens, planted with indigenous flora, with walking trails, sculptures and more. Where is it?
The new National Gallery sits on a four acre plot on the western side of the Esterly Tibbets Bypass, across from, and just south of, Camana Bay. Access is directly off the bypass and there is ample parking space. Exhibitions
One of the most exciting aspects of the new facility is that for the very first time, the National Art Collection will have a permanent exhibition space on the upper level of the gallery. Around 45 pieces of Caymanian art, taken from the joint collections of the NGCI, the National Museum and CNCF spanning some 40 years, will be on display at any one time.
There is not sufficient space for the entire National Collection to be exhibited at one time, so the pieces on display will be rotated regularly.
The lower level will include a gallery for temporary exhibitions and a retail area. The National Gallery is planning to put on eight special exhibitions annually, which will feature both Caymanian and international artists. The new facility will open with a temporary exhibition of a collection of works by Caymanian artist Bendel Hydes, entitled Circumnavigating the Globe. Education Centre
The bulk of the National Gallery’s work involves education and the Education Centre provides a superb space in which they can continue to offer many of their outreach programmes, both hands on and theoretical. For those wanting to explore their creative side, a fully equipped fine art studio will provide an ideal space for art classes for all ages. Classes begin in February.
For those with a more intellectual interest in the visual arts, the state of the art auditorium will double as a lecture space and a venue for the screening of the Cine Club and Art Flix films.
A lending library stocked with over 2,000 books and journals relating to arts and culture, from Cayman and around the world, will also be housed within the Education Centre. Gardens
Once you have had your fill of arts and culture – or even if you haven’t – you can then step into the three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, which are planted with a variety of native trees and plants.
Natalie hopes all members of the community will make use of the gardens, whether it’s for a quiet stroll, a family picnic or to read a book under the shade of a tree. The outdoor space will also be used for art fairs and can be available for private or corporate events.
A Heritage Nature Trail will run across the entire site, with the aim of educating visitors about the social, cultural medicinal and economic value of indigenous flora and a Sculpture Garden will provide an additional point of interest in the grounds, featuring works from the permanent collection as well as temporary exhibitions. Extras
A retail store within the exhibition space will sell National Gallery branded goods, based on images from the permanent collection as well as exclusive lines of jewellery, straw work and handbags, created for the gallery by some of Cayman’s finest artisans.
A small on site coffee shop means you can sip on a juice and enjoy a snack while enjoying the gardens or watching a film. Cost & Membership
Entry to the exhibitions and the gardens is free of charge to all. The National Gallery is, however, a non-profit organisation and as such encourages the public to purchase membership, the proceeds from which will enable them to continue their valuable work.
Membership includes: unlimited free access to gardens and exhibitions, invitations to exhibition openings, lectures, discussions, regular newsletters, access to the lending library and a 10 per cent discount on art classes, workshops and retail goods. Opening Hours
Monday – Friday 10 am – 5pm,
plus scheduled evening classes. www.nationalgallery.org.ky
Tel: 945 8111