Guyana’s National Gallery of Art, Castellani House, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, having opened to the public on May 24, 1993. This is a welcome milestone for a national cultural institution. Castellani is Guyana’s main art gallery and the repository of the National Collection.
Castellani forms a key part of the cultural infrastructure of Guyana, and all efforts must be made to sustain and develop it and its sister institutions. It stands alongside the E R Burrowes School of Art, the University of Guyana Creative Arts programme, the Museum of African Art, the Guyana Visual Arts Competition and Exhibition and the Institute of Creative Arts as the bodies which carry the responsibility for ensuring the maintenance and growth of art in Guyana. In the wider cultural arena, it is a sister to other institutions such as the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, the National Archives, the Guyana Prize for Literature, the National Museum and Mashramani.
But there are at least two other important reasons why this milestone is worth celebrating. Firstly, Castellani House and its art treasure embody much more than a quarter of a century of history. Secondly, Castellani House, the National Collection, and the actuality of a national gallery of art in Guyana owe their existence to some remarkable decisions – the kind that help to define a nation – that were made over a period of about 140 years…..