Museum History and Governance

Established by an Act of Parliament, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas is the first institution of its kind in the history of The Bahamas. In 1996, Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham first announced the establishment of The National Art Gallery as part of an expanded system of museums. The Government’s initiative to support a national art gallery reflects an understanding of how such institutions assist in nation building. It represents a vision that a national art gallery can be a place for Bahamians to view an important aspect of their culture. It also anticipates that The National Art Gallery will become a showpiece for tourism - a place where visitors from abroad can view the finest Bahamian artwork.

After considering various locations, the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas was invited to occupy Villa Doyle, a period building dating back to the 1860s. Because of its history, location and beauty, there can be few sites more fitting to house the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas than this building. Completed in the 1860s, its owner Sir William Doyle was Chief Justice of The Bahamas and the first Bahamian to be knighted. After the addition of a ballroom in the 1920s, it became one of Nassau’s stately homes and a prized location for local entertainment. Positioned on the rise overlooking the top of West Street, Villa Doyle is typical of great houses of earlier centuries with balconies that offer a commanding view of the city and the sea. It is located in the heart of historic “Old Nassau” and is within easy walking distance of Nassau’s main commercial district.

Villa Doyle’s restoration took almost seven years to complete involving a dedicated team of professionals and consultants under the supervision of architect Anthony Jervis and the National Art Gallery’s Committee chaired by Dr. Gail Saunders. Because of the time taken to complete the restoration and transformation of Villa Doyle, the National Art Gallery now boasts museum grade lighting, and climate, fire and security controls, which are on par with similar galleries internationally.

The Gallery’s mission is to collect, preserve, document and promote a National Collection of art for the benefit and education of Bahamians and the wider international audience. The NAGB assists in defining the Bahamian art movement that has to this point developed informally. The National Art Gallery supports the artistic community by extending its audiences, helping to define its standards and practices, and by broadening its impact.

The National Art Gallery is a non-profit organization. As a corporate body it is governed by a Board of Directors appointed to serve three year-terms. Annual Reports are prepared each budget year and are available as PDF documents for public review.