Nassau’s local art scene has grown exponentially in the last decade. A trip to one of the island’s many outstanding art galleries is a definite “must do” if you’re interested in learning about how resident Bahamians (and international visitors) use art forms in cool and creative ways to make sense of their world. It can also enhance your understanding of Bahamian culture within the context of recent and historical local and global events. Plus- they’re down right fun places to hang out in, and in almost all cases you’re likely to run into the artists themselves or (better yet) see them in action working on their craft. From the new and eclectic to more traditional art forms from older generations of Bahamians, these art hubs are burgeoning with activity and creative goodness. Even if you think art isn’t “your thing”, we encourage you to check out at least one of these art galleries. Whether you’re planning a trip to Nassau or are an island resident – prepare to be intrigued and left wanting more!
The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB)
If the combination of history & traditional, contemporary & experimental art is something you fancy, a visit to the NAGB will certainly leave you satisfied. For those history lovers- the NAGB opened its doors in 2003, following an amazing seven-year restoration of a former mansion (“Villa Doyle”) built in the 1860s by a former Chief Justice, Sir William Doyle. Little known fact: the NAGB is actually more than an art gallery – it’s a national museum! It preserves and showcases the National Collection of Bahamian Art, which can be found on the ground level as a permanent display. On its upper levels and in its temporary gallery space, the museum curates seasonal exhibits on the history of Bahamian Art and visual culture, and offers lots of room for what it calls “contemporary movements” and “experimental contemporary art practice” in their ever-rotating exhibits. At the NAGB, you never know what you’ll find next! There’s always something new to discover.
- Location: Corner of West & West Hill Street
- Opening Days & Hours: Tuesday- Saturday, 10am to 4pm, Sunday, 12pm- 4pm (*Free for locals the 3rd Sunday of every month)
- Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for students/seniors, and free for kiddos under twelve. Evening talks by artists are often also free of charge- check their calendar for details.
- Current Exhibitions: “40 Years of Bahamian Art”, drawn from its Permanent Collection, “Swan of the Flamingo”, by Kishan Munroe (until March 16th only)
- Contact: (242) 328-5800 or www.nagb.org.bs
The D’Aguilar Art Foundation (DAF)
Just around the bend from the NAGB on quaint Virginia Street, lies the DAF- a tiny yet still immensely fascinating art gallery. Curiously enough, its late founder and avid Bahamian art collector, Vincent Y. D’Aguilar, was appointed as the founding Co-Chairman of the NAGB when it first began its building renovation process. Also like the NAGB, it is housed in an older 19th century home that has since been remodelled. Vincent D’Aguilar wanted to build a collection of Bahamian art that could supersede that of any other nation in the world. With over 450 works in its Bahamian Collection spanning over fifty years into the past, the DAF offers a history of how contemporary Bahamian art came to be. But- you’ll have to see it with your own eyes to really take in its glory. From the representational to the abstract, the DAF prides itself in being diverse and dynamic, and amassing a collection that reflects Bahamian national identity. As with the NAGB, the DAF allows you to explore traditional paintings as well as more diverse forms of sculpture, ceramics, photography, and printmaking. Although smaller in size, the DAF also houses an International Artwork Collection that meticulously assembles unique mementos from D’Aguilar’s travels throughout many parts of Africa, Northern Europe, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
- Location: Virginia Street
- Opening Days & Hours: Tuesday & Thursday, 10am to 3:45pm (*prior appointment via email is required)
- Admission: Free
- Current Exhibition: None. (*They are busy preparing for “Submerged” as part of Transforming Spaces, opening April 5.)
- Contact: (242) 325-1957 or www.daguilarartfoundation.com
Antonius Roberts Studio and Gallery at Hillside House
Found at the top of the hill on Cumberland Street in downtown Nassau, Antonius Roberts’s Art Studio and Gallery offers artists and visitors a welcomed reprieve from the bustle of the main downtown thoroughfare. The gallery itself is home to the work of Antonius Roberts, one of the nation’s most acclaimed artists and a leading sculptor, as well as rotating exhibits of other featured Bahamian artists. In a very spiritual nature, Antonius has built his space to be one that can attest to his personal philosophy of environmental conservation, transformation, and preservation. When you walk through its curiously shaped metal gates, you will find a garden oasis- a courtyard filled with luscious plants and flowers, and wooden benches (carved from Casuarina trees by Antonius himself) that invite you to enjoy a quiet, shaded space for reflection. More often than not, a handful of local artists –including Antonius- will be enjoying its scenery right alongside you.
An interesting and yummy side note (we couldn’t resist)- Hillside House is also home to the creative catering company, The Distinguished Palate. If you plan to come around lunchtime, pick up one of their creative “lunch-on-the-go” packaged meals and beverages. (We recommend their “Antonius Burger” with ground turkey and a creamy Cucumber dressing, and to top it off, homemade guava lemonade.) Also- every Wednesday morning from 10 to 11am, the gallery hosts a community “coffee hour” with complimentary coffee and baked treats.
- Location: Cumberland Street
- Opening Days & Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10am to 4pm
- Admission: Free
- Current Exhibition: “Inked”, by Susan Katz Lightbourn
- Contact: (242) 322-7673 or antoniusroberts.com
Doongalik Studios Art Gallery
Credit: Craft Cottage Bahamas
This historic and Junkanoo-infused art gallery is well worth the trip (and the New York Timesagrees too). Located on Village Road at the eastern end of the island (a short, ten minute drive from downtown Nassau), Doongalik Studios will certainly “wow” you even as you enter- as their colourful and vibrant wall space and lush garden of tropical palms and fruit trees differ greatly from any other property nearby. Doongalik Studios has led the way in terms of providing a place for Bahamian artistic talent to flourish. Founded by the late architect, artist, and supreme cultural advocate Jackson Burnside and his wife, Pam, in the 1970s, the couple has devoted their lifetime to establishing the country as an international center for creativity. Today, Pam and their daughter, Orchid, curate temporary art exhibits, and host many other artistic events on site including book launches and readings for acclaimed Bahamian authors and poets, monthly open mic nights and “story” (versus poetry) slams and a weekly farmers’ market on Saturday mornings from 9am to 1pm.
- Location: Village Road
- Opening Days & Hours: Monday-Friday, 10am to 4pm
- Admission: Free
- Current Exhibition: “At Long Last”, by Malcom Rae
- Contact: (242) 394-1886 or www.doongalik.com
Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts
Tucked away amidst the grassy fields of Chippingham, just a short distance from the Fish Fry of Arawak Cay and downtown Nassau, you will find Popopstudios. As a visitor, you will discover exciting forms of alternative Bahamian visual culture, as Popopstudios strives to educate, promote, expose, and defend new and challenging motions of contemporary art in The Bahamas. What is really special about Popopstudios is that its gallery is just a byproduct of the independent art studio and residency programmes that it facilitates. As one of the most established residency programmes in the Caribbean, you will encounter both local and international artists – seasoned and developing – that are both living and working within its studio and gallery grounds.
- Location: Dunmore Avenue, Chippingham
- Opening Days & Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm (*Call ahead of time to let them know you’re coming!)
- Admission: Free
- Current Exhibition: “Because Drawing Round Squares Takes Practice”, by Heino Schmid
- Contact: (242) 322-7834 or www.popopstudios.com
Art Gallery At Liquid Courage
The youngest and most experimental art gallery, Liquid Courage, is centrally located in Palmdale, in the heart of Nassau’s shopping and commercial district. The gallery made its debut in December 2012 as an added feature to the local wine and spirits store, Liquid Courage Ltd, which is located in the same building. Team members from Liquid Courage built it as a project space and an art gallery because, in their words, “wine and art go well together”, and they wanted to nurture Nassau’s growing art community. When visiting Liquid Courage, you will find unusual artwork on the second floor of their warehouse. Its layout is simplistic and refreshing, offering a fresh, open space with white walls and wooden floors for artists to use with no boundaries.
- Location: Patton Street, Palmdale (Enter through the Liquid Courage liquor store, and ask a staff member to escort you to the upstairs gallery.)
- Opening Days & Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10am to 6pm
- Admission: Free
- Current Exhibition: “The Sponenik Series”, by Jan Kempenaers
- Contact: (242) 322-2202 or www.liquidcourageltd.com
Good to Know: If you’re visiting Nassau for the day only and don’t have time to fit in a full itinerary of gallery hopping this go around- our friends at Genuinely Bahamian Boutique have a colorful and well sourced display of prints, ceramics, ornaments and canvases brightening their space (amid teas, coffees, spices, jams and more). Of course, we’ll be sure to point out this vibrant artwork to you if you’re joining us on one of our Bites of Nassau Food Tasting & Cultural Walking Tours.
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