The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) announces the departure of the Executive Director, Amanda Coulson, who will step down, effective April 30, 2021, after ten years leading the institution. Mrs. Coulson returned home to The Bahamas in 2011, after having forged a successful 20-year arts career in both Europe and America. Under her tenure, the NAGB has grown considerably in both number of visitors and capacity, with expansions that include a 200-seat outdoor Amphitheatre and a new art park and native plant garden. Coulson also initiated and oversaw numerous extensions beyond the extensions beyond the walls, including the popular “Blank Canvas” show on Guardian Talk Radio, an extensive national mural program and the Inter-Island Travelling Exhibition, which serves the Family Islands. Coulson is leaving the institution to pursue her next career goal in the Bahamian art scene and remains at the NAGB until April 2021, phasing out her involvement to ensure a smooth and successful handover.
Coulson states, “It was a dream to return to The Bahamas and to lead this important and dynamic institution. These years have been extremely rewarding and it was a privilege to forge the NAGB’s path and contribute even a small portion to our nation-building. I am extremely proud of the work that we have done, the cadres of young Bahamians that have been trained, the artists whose work we have shown—both at home and internationally—the students we have encouraged and the new audiences we have embraced. However, institutions thrive on fresh ideas and, as such, I believe it is of vital importance to allow new Bahamian leaders to emerge. With a decade at the helm, it is time to invite other voices to lead the NAGB in telling the Bahamian story and, in my personal journey, to find new ways to support Bahamian art.”
During her tenure, Coulson introduced some radical changes to the NAGB’s organization and roster. She reclaimed the extraordinary Ballroom space for the exhibition of art, thereby allowing the institution to move from hosting two or three shows a year, to up to sixteen, brought in a broader audience, and diversified the content through exhibitions, such as the institution’s first-ever Junkanoo Art show. Coulson also quadrupled the size of the NAGB’s Education Department, increased local community outreach, and significantly expanded service to the Family Islands. Through strategic affiliations with partners such as the Bahamas National Trust, The University of The Bahamas or One Eleuthera Foundation, as well as collaboration with international institutions like the American Alliance of Museums, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), Coulson has ensured that Bahamian art has been put front and centre and that the NAGB has been recognized both regionally and internationally as the leading art institution in the region. In November 2019, she was invited to sit on the Board of MAC, along with representatives of other leading museums, such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).
With her wide range of connections throughout the art world, Coulson also ensured that key curators, writers and museum professionals visited both the NAGB and other local arts organizations, in order to provide professional opportunities for local artists and curators, making sure that Bahamian artists were acknowledged and included in international magazines, art fairs and exhibitions and at a range of sites that included Vienna, Austria; Santiago di Cuba, Cuba; Paris, France; Leipzig, Germany; and in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Miami and Stuart, FL, USA.
NAGB Chairman, Mr. Lawrence Bascom states, “The work that Mrs. Coulson has done in helping the NAGB articulate it’s Mission, Vision and Values will help to educate, uplift and inspire Bahamians for decades to come. She is also to be commended for her superb financial management of this institution, helping the NAGB to complete and publish timely reports on its financial position, changes in net assets and cash flows. The entire Board thanks Mrs. Coulson for her selfless service to the NAGB, and we look forward to working closely with her in the months ahead as we identify and transition to a new Executive Director.”