Plans are underway to transform the building the used to house the parks department headquarters at Botanical Gardens into a new art-and-design centre.

The announcement was made this morning by Public Works Minister Lt Col David Burch, with representatives from the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art and distinguished guests.

The Minister noted that the announcement “underscores the collaborative spirit between the Government of Bermuda and Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, marking a significant step towards revitalising an iconic piece of Bermuda’s history”.

The building faced closure “due to severe mould issues” in 2018, and has “languished in a state of deterioration ever since”.

“This Grade 3 listed building, with a storied past as the residence of the Director of Agriculture and other officials for over 122 years, represents a remarkable piece of our cultural heritage,” said Col Burch.

“Today, I am pleased to share with you that Masterworks Museum, known for its status as a centre of cultural arts and for its museum of art, approached the Ministry of Public Works with a proposal to lease and renovate this historic government asset – at no cost to the taxpayer.

“This initiative, which will see the building become a second location for Masterworks in the form of its new art and design centre, stems from a shared commitment to preserving our cultural legacy and fostering art and culture,” he added.

“I want to express sincere gratitude to the Board of Masterworks Bermuda and to its executive director, Ms Risa Hunter, for their initiative in the revitalising this building.

“Their dedication to the arts and cultural enrichment is truly commendable, and we acknowledge their efforts in raising the funds needed to undertake the comprehensive renovation of the building.

“Importantly, this endeavour comes at no cost to the public, showcasing a beneficial partnership between the public and private sectors. The lack of funding is always the impediment to Government carrying out these works itself.

“The decision to grant the lease is rooted in a vision that will see this historic building return to active use for the public’s benefit. It signifies not only the preservation of our cultural heritage but also the further elevation of the Botanical Gardens as a hub for art and culture, aligned with the Government’s commitment to community development.”

The Minister continued: “The benefits that Masterworks brings to our community are exemplified by the successful transformation of the former Arrowroot Factory Building. This showcases their dedication to repurposing historical spaces to enrich our vibrant cultural landscape.

“Recognising the surplus status of the building, we believe that once renovated, it will play a crucial role in supporting the Foundation’s art projects for the Island, aligning seamlessly with the wider remit to expand opportunities for budding artists.

“This strategic decision is part of broader plans. The building being considered surplus aligns with our vision for a new state of the art Parks headquarters development at the Marsh Folly site. Those Plans should be submitted to Planning shortly.

“Additionally, renovations to the Botanical Gardens Visitors’ Centre are planned, catering to Library space, other Parks Department needs, and public spaces.

“This public-private partnership, guided by the principles of the National Parks Act 1986, is a shining example of repurposing unused government buildings to support art education and development, fostering a more vibrant and connected community.”

In closing, he thanked “the Board, Management, staff and donors of the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art,” said: “We look forward to witnessing the positive transformation of this historic site under your capable stewardship.”