Set back from the street, City Hall contains Hamilton's administrative offices as well as two art galleries and a performance hall. Instead of a clock, its tower is topped with a bronze wind vane—a prudent choice in a land where the weather is as important as the time. The building itself was designed in 1960 by Bermudian architect Wilfred Onions, a champion of balanced simplicity. Massive cedar doors open onto an impressive lobby notable for its beautiful chandeliers and portraits of mayors past and present. To the left is City Hall Theatre, a major venue for concerts, plays, and dance performances. To the right are the civic offices, where you can find souvenirs such as pens, T-shirts, and paperweights showing the Corporation of Hamilton's logo. A handsome cedar staircase leads upstairs to two upper-floor art galleries. (An elevator gets you there, too.)
Bermuda National Gallery. On the first landing, in the East Exhibition Room, the Bermuda National Gallery is home
to Bermuda's national art collection. The permanent exhibits include paintings by island artists as well as European masters like Gainsborough and Reynolds; African masks and sculpture; and photographs by internationally known artists, such as Bermudian Richard Saunders (1922–87). The fine and decorative art pieces in the Bermuda Collection reflect the country's multicultural heritage. Temporary exhibits are also a major part of the museum's program, and on any given day you can see a selection of local work along with a traveling exhibit from another museum. For a comprehensive look at the collections, join one of the free docent-led tours offered Thursday at 10:30 (private ones can be arranged on request). Lectures and other special programs are listed in the gallery's online calendar. Parents should note that some of these are targeted specifically at children. Furthermore, drawing stations where they can create their own artwork are available within the gallery. A branch of the National Gallery has recently been opened at Bridge House in St George's. 441/295–9428. www.bng.bm. Donations accepted.
Bermuda Society of Arts Gallery. Farther up the stairs, in the West Wing, the Bermuda Society of Arts Gallery displays work by its members. Its frequently changing juried shows attract talented local painters, sculptors, and photographers. Art collectors will be pleased to learn that many pieces may also be purchased. 441/292–3824. www.bsoa.bm. Donations accepted.