The Bermuda Society of Arts (BSoA) is the oldest established arts organisation in Bermuda. Originally known as the “Society of Artists in Bermuda”, it was formed in 1952 by 25 enthusiasts. Although only a few of the founder-members were artists, their work was of such a high standard that, in time, some of it became part of the collections of the Bermuda National Gallery, Masterworks Foundation, the Premier’s official residence, and even the Society itself.
In 1956, an Act of Parliament set a formal seal on the restructured organisation’s existence, its Constitution and the new name: The Bermuda Society of Arts.
The original venue for exhibitions was the Hamilton Hotel, which was situated where City Hall Car Park can be found today. Sadly, this propery was razed to the ground by a fire in the early 1950’s but, thanks to the vision of the late Sir Gilbert Cooper, CBE, ED, a former Mayor of Hamilton, the Society found a permanent home in City Hall, when it was granted a life tenancy in 1961.
Over the years the BSoA Galleries has undergone a series of “renovations” and in 1967 the large exhibition space was subdivided to provide for a smaller exhibiting space, suitable for one person or small group shows, and an office. This exhibiting space was named “The Edinburgh Gallery” and was opened by HRH Prince Philip in 1967.
In 2001, to honour the Architect of City Hall, Wil Onions, the main exhibiting space was renamed “The Onions Gallery” . A further division of the main gallery was made in 2007 to include two boutique “Studio” galleries which provide an ideal space for first time exhibitors. The dividing walls, however, are rolling and so the space remains the largest available exhibiting space in Hamilton.
From modest beginnings, the Society has grown in strength and influence. The original membership of 25 has grown to more than 400 in 2010, almost half of whom are artists. Then, as now, the Society’s mission has always to further the cause of art and artists in Bermuda.