Bermuda's first purpose-built art museum was the subject of island-wide patriotic fervor when it opened early in 2008, and the crowds pouring in haven’t abated since. It’s housed within the much-altered, much-expanded premises of what functioned in 1900 as an arrowroot processing plant. As part of a skillful recycling of the once-decrepit building, it now boasts a state-of-the-art security system, sophisticated lighting, air-conditioning, preservation facilities, floors crafted from wide planks of exotic Brazilian hardwood, and a constantly shifting exposition of Bermuda-inspired artworks. Only about 5% of the total number of artworks within this museum’s collection can be exhibited at any time making it an ideal gallery for return visits since you’ll likely see something new each time you arrive. A visit to this collection will certainly impress upon you the artistic power of Bermuda as muse to an array of radically different artists. You’ll see many paintings by artists you might never have heard of (many of whom are locals), as well as works by 19th-century masters such as Winslow Homer and Georgia O’Keeffe, both of whom responded to Bermuda with artistic zeal.
On your way into the museum, note the stately 18th-century mansion, Camden House, that’s immediately adjacent: Closed to the public, it’s the official residence of the premier of Bermuda who rented the premises of what’s now the museum to its curators for a fee of $1 a year. And on your way out don’t miss the steel sculpture Double Fantasy from Bermudian artist Graham Foster. The impressive work is a tribute to John Lennon; the musician wrote several songs in Bermuda after being inspired by his walks through the Botanical Gardens in June 1980.
The museum has a terrific restaurant, Homer’s Café, serving salads, small bites and Mexican favorites.