National Gallery New building taking shape

In the fourth in a series of articles that follow the development of the new National Gallery and Education Centre, we take a look the Maples and Calder Art Library. 

Those who have driven along the Esterly Tibbetts Bypass in the past few months will have noted the developments at The National Gallery building site. The Gallery’s two buildings, divided between the Exhibition Hall and the Education Centre, can now be clearly viewed and the surrounding site plan is now beginning to take shape.  

“It has been very exciting to see the design, which has existed on paper since 1997, become a tangible reality,” confirms Director Natalie Urquhart. “We’re pleased to report that work continues at a rapid pace and the project remains on target for completion at the end of the year, with a public opening scheduled for February 2012.  

Following on from our detailed look at the Art Studio in April, we now turn to the Maples and Calder Art Library, which is set to house the largest fine arts collection in the Cayman Islands. To date, the NGCI’s library comprises 2,000-plus books, DVDs and journals focusing on the history of art and design along with numerous publications on arts education and the methods and materials of artistic production. Approximately half of these are available at the NGCI’s current location although space limitations have prevented full access to the collection. The new Maples and Calder Art Library, kindly sponsored by the company, will ensure that the public have full access to this exceptional resource in addition to web-based learning portals.  

“Maples and Calder continues to seek out opportunities to support organisations that promote educational and artistic development in the Cayman Islands. The National Gallery has grown tremendously over the years, both in size and influence, and its commitment to raising the bar on the arts and culture is highly commended,” said Dale Crowley, partner at Maples and Calder. “Our sponsorship of the new library is in line with our mission to assist in the development of education in this country and we anticipate that the National Gallery will achieve great things as their expansion plans are realised.” 

The range of the collections begins with prehistory and extends to contemporary art. Presently, they are strongest in the history of western European art and anthologies of world art. To coincide with the move, the collection will be expanded to encompass the arts of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, extensive materials relating to exhibition development, cultural studies and curating will also be available as part of the NGCI’s new adult learning programme and lecture series.  

The library also houses the NGCI’s extensive CineClub film and documentary collection of movies from around the globe. These can be checked out of the library or viewed as part of the bi-monthly CineClub programme held in the Dart Auditorium.  

“The new library is just one way that the National Gallery will continue to reach out to the local communities and to develop its services to cater for the changing needs of our society,” says Urquhart. “Given the breadth of our collection this area will become the natural focal point for the NGCI’s extensive education schedule. We hope that it will also be well-used by schools, colleges and independent researchers across all three islands both on-site and via distance learning.”