In the late nineteenth century tourism began to play a major role in Bermuda’s economy. Many of its earliest visitors were artists seeking to escape the bleak East Coast winters. Inspired and revitalised by the island’s beauty, they created some of their best works here.
On returning home, their art generally went with them. By the end of the twentieth century their works were scattered around the globe and unseen by locals and recent visitors. In 1987 Tom Butterfield founded the Masterworks Foundation. One of its key objectives was to repatriate this art and place it on permanent display in Bermuda.
The dream came to fruition in 2008 with the opening of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. Since inception the collection has grown rapidly and now comprises over 1,200 pieces of Bermuda inspired art.
Four galleries are home to works by famous artists such as Wilmslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and Henry Moore. Regular rotation and exhibitions by visiting artists ensure return visits are always worthwhile.
The gallery is situated within the grounds of the Botanical Gardens, a beautiful public park in Paget Parish. Opening times are Monday to Saturday 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday 11 am to 4.30 pm. Admission is $5 (free for children under 12).
The Botanical Gardens is on three bus routes (1, 2 and 7). The museum is clearly signposted from all entrances. Free parking is available for scooters and cars.
The Arrowroot Gift Shop sells original local art, prints, books, books, postcards, and more. Homer’s Café offers breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads. Prices are reasonable and patrons also receive a voucher giving a $2 discount on the gallery entrance fee.
In 2012 the foundation celebrated its 25th anniversary. As part of the celebrations a sculpture in memory of John Lennon was placed in the grounds. The Beatles legend visited the island in 1980 and wrote the Double Fantasy album here. It was named after a species of freesia he noted while walking in the Botanical Gardens. The steel Tribute Sculpture is the work of Bermudian artist Graham Foster. It stands 9 foot high and features Lennon’s Rickenbacker guitar, freesias, and doves.