National Gallery of Zimbabwe
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe: Preserving and Promoting Contemporary Art and Heritage
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) is a renowned art gallery located in Harare, Zimbabwe. The gallery is committed to showcasing and preserving Zimbabwe's contemporary art and visual heritage. The original National Gallery of African Modern Art in Rhodesia, as it was then known, was the brainchild of British citizen Frank McEwen, who is recognized for his role in spotlighting Shona Sculpture. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother officially inaugurated the gallery on July 16, 1957, and Queen Elizabeth II attended the sixth Zimbabwe Heritage Exhibition there in October 1991.
Frank McEwen served as the curator of the gallery from 1957 until his resignation in 1973. His successor was Roy Guthrie, the founder of the Chapungu Sculpture Park in 1970. As of 2014, the Executive Director of the gallery is Doreen Sibanda, with Raphael Chikukwa as the curator. Acclaimed Zimbabwean sculptor Dominic Benhura is a member of the Board of Trustees.
Originally conceived as a national institution representing Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland, which were governed as a united Federation from 1953 to 1963, the Gallery of African Modern Art was fully overseen by the Salisbury City Council. The council was responsible for managing the gallery's establishment, construction, and administration, and the Mayor of Salisbury was appointed to the Board of Trustees. The board's initial responsibilities involved securing funds for the construction, selecting the design of the building, and appointing a director. Subsequently, they established funds for the gallery's operational and administrative costs and set up an endowment fund for acquiring a permanent collection.
Despite the early financial challenges, the board was determined to raise support from local businesses to construct the gallery in Southern Rhodesia. The belief was that, as in many developed countries, art galleries are integral to a community's cultural life. As Sir Stephen Courtauld stated in the annual report of 1954, the Board firmly believed that a National Art Gallery was crucial for the progress of the people of this land, reflecting the Board's commitment to establishing the gallery.
Today, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe stands as a testament to this vision, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in 2007 and continuing to contribute significantly to the cultural and artistic landscape of Zimbabwe.
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