The visual arts community in The Bahamas is robust and thriving. Exhibition openings happen regularly throughout the year and larger events like the Transforming Spaces art crawl draw enthusiastic crowds. No doubt our sunny, colour-saturated landscape inspires creativity, and whether you are a devoted art lover or casually interested in seeing beautiful things, it would be a shame to come to our islands and miss out on the fabulous work produced by our artists.
Use this list of the 5 must-see art galleries in Nassau to guide your exploration of this rich facet of Bahamian society. Each space has a unique vibe, but they all share a desire to promote Bahamian artists and culture.
Photo Description: National Art Gallery of The Bahamas
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) is a major repository for historic and contemporary Bahamian art. Its home is a national treasure as well: the stately Villa Doyle, built in the 1860s for the nation’s first Chief Justice. After decades of neglect, the mansion was restored in the 1990s to make it suitable for the gallery.
The NAGB has four exhibition spaces, including one reserved for the national collection. More than a place to look at art, the NAGB offers a variety of free and paid programming. Both locals and visitors are regularly invited to workshops, artist talks, a film series and ARTernoons, among other events. The grounds surrounding the gallery are worth visiting as well, with benches for lounging and a beautiful public park and amphitheatre on the neighbouring property.
Photo Description: Doongalik Studios, from Rosewood Conversations
Along with his wife Pam, the late artist and architect Jackson Burnside founded Doongalik Studios in the 1970s. Burnside said that by 2020 the majority of The Bahamas’ visitors would come to our islands for art, culture and heritage rather than sun, sand and sea. Today, Pam is at the helm of Doongalik, labouring under the same mission.
Nestled in a lush tropical garden, the historic residence transformed into the Studios is a hive of activity. In addition to the gallery and art store, Doongalik hosts a weekend farmers’ market, book launches, tea parties and other social events. You will also find a custom framing studio and local craft store in buildings adjacent to the main residence.
Where: 20 Village Road
Photo Description: D’Aguilar Art Foundation
A prominent and highly regarded Bahamian businessman, the late Vincent D’Aguilar became an art lover through visiting museums and galleries on his travels abroad. Recognising that Bahamian artists were underestimated and underappreciated, he and his wife Marina made it their personal mission to champion local art and build a private collection. It was not long before D’Aguilar’s support earned him Bahamian artists’ respect and admiration. He became, among other things, a founding co-chairman of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
In his will, Mr. D’Aguilar expressed the desire for an art foundation to secure and display his collection. After his passing in 2008, his daughter-in-law Saskia launched the D’Aguilar Art Foundation and supervised the development of the foundation building, which opened in 2010. A three-minute walk from the NAGB, the building is an exhibition, educational and archival space. The foundation works to preserve and expand the D’Aguilars’ impressive private collection, to promote appreciation and education of fine art and to provide support for Bahamian-based artists.
Where: 8A Virginia Street
Photo Description: Hillside House, from the D’Aguilar Art Foundation
Nassau’s art and social scene became that much livelier when painter, sculptor and open space designer Antonius Roberts decided to create a studio/gallery space downtown. Named Hillside House, the gates beckon everyone passing by its busy entrance. In addition to his own work, which can be found in private collections and public spaces across the country, Roberts curates exhibitions of other contemporary Bahamian art. After touring the gallery, enjoy a rest in the garden and sip on a cool drink from the bar. Hillside House hosts a variety of social and cultural events, so you might also find yourself on the property for an elaborately themed dinner party, happy hour or even a game night.
Where: 13 Cumberland Street
Photo Description: The Current Gallery & Art Centre, from Tripadvisor
The developers of mega-resort Baha Mar dreamt of filling its public and private spaces with Bahamian art. The Current Gallery & Art Centre is the place on the campus where this vision is fully realised. Under the direction of leading Bahamian artist John Cox, the gallery exhibits contemporary Bahamian artwork and is staffed by local artists. The Current has a retail shop with Bahamian merchandise, offers workshops and tours of art across the resort grounds, and operates a residency programme.
Where: 1 Baha Mar Boulevard