I love downtown Kingston, home to beautiful historic colonial buildings, the Houses of Parliament and street markets. Nestled away just off Ocean Boulevard is the National Gallery of Jamaica. This splendid gallery displays many works by Jamaican masters and holds regular events. It is often very quiet, so it wouldn’t be unusual to have the entire place to yourself. There is a small entrance fee, and a delightful little gift shop selling, amongst other tings, prints of most the works on display.
Housing the island’s finest collection of Jamaican art, highlights include the modernist sculptures of Edna Manley, the vibrant paintings of artists like Barrington Watson, Karl Parboosingh and revivalist bishop Mallica ‘Kapo’ Reynolds. Recently, Jamaica lost its finest expressive and realist painter Cecil Cooper (who was taught by Barrington Watson and studied under the African-American abstract expressionist Norman Lewis). I’m sure it won’t be long before we see his incredible work given a permanent home here.
Spread across two floors, the National Gallery is a treasure and likely you’ll have the place to yourself when you visit. The Jamaica Biennial – the National Gallery’s flagship biennial exhibition, will be taking place between February 26 to May 28, 2017.
The best time to visit is late Saturday morning. Downtown Kingston is quieter at the weekends, and parking should be easy to find, right outside the front door. Also, if you have the time, it would also be worth walking a short distance along the waterfront to see Edna Manley’s 1935 sculpture Negro Aroused – models of which you will have seen in the gallery.
Closed Sundays and Mondays but open every last Sunday of the month, 11 am to 4 pm.