Come collect your works

National Gallery of Jamaica facing storage crisis

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

The National Gallery of Jamaica is has run out of storage space.

As a result, the gallery is asking artists whose works are currently in their possession to come and retrieve them in order to avert what is a potential crisis.

Dr Jonathan Greenland, director of the National Museum of Jamaica under whose ambit the gallery falls, noted that some of the works to be collected have been part of various exhibitions and biennials over the years. Some have been at the gallery for as long as 35 years, and that is contributing to the general pile-up of works, which has now overrun the storage space available and the facility located at the Kingston waterfront.

“We can't get rid of them really because legally, we have duty of care. Often we can't find the actual owner, can't find the artist. Often we can find the owner and the artist but we can't get the work back to them. So it's become a sort of running problem because we have limited storage here. So we end up with lots of this that really don't belong to a national gallery but which we have become a warehouse for. We're trying to get the owners as hard as we can, but obviously we have to do the due diligence to make sure they are the rightful owners. So people have to have some proof that they own the work, some sort of paper trail.

Greenland noted that the situation is compounded by the fact that in the past, there wasn't a clause in the contract between the gallery, artists, owners and collectors when works were were being submitted which stated what could be done with uncollected pieces.

Nowadays we do all that, but that wasn't always the case, and so we don't really have a legal right to dispose of the work because that was not something we told the person when they came in. Now there is a contract which says that when you bring in your work you have to sign this document otherwise we don't accept it. The problem we are facing now is really our fault as we should have thought about this a long time ago. This whole issue has been on the books for about 10 years and now where are in this predicament. However, we just have to look after these pieces. Our first duty as a national gallery is to look after and preserve the art history of the country.

He noted that the situation has become so bad that the National Gallery has not only exhausted its storage space and rented private warehouse space to house the works, but has even resorted to contracting the exhibition halls in order to create space for storage. This situation he shared with the Jamaica Observer has given rise to plans to reconfigure the National Gallery.

“It is terrible. We have totally inadequate storage; it is not made for modern storage. We specialise in exhibitions, we don't specialise in storage. That is something I am working on with an architect. We are actually changing the whole configuration of the building. The entrance will be on the sea side. So you will soon enter the gallery —from that little park adjacent to the gallery which is grossly underused. So we will be changing the orientation of the museum to face the harbour. This fits into the UDC's (Urban Development Corporation's) plan for the entire waterfront. We will be using that little park a lot more. We are planning to turn it into a sculpture park so we will bring in some of the big, great public pieces of sculpture that we have in our possession and have them displayed in the park. We are trying to piggyback on all the development taking place in downtown Kingston so some of our changes will come on stream by the end of the year.”

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon