BNG Team

Peter Lapsley

Meet the BNG Team

Get to know the team behind the 2022 Best of Bermuda Award. As a small but nimble team of five staff, we all wear many hats. Our membership has grown over the past year and with a relatively new team in place we though that we would introduce ourselves to you. In celebration of being named Best Museum by The Bermudian, we will be profiling each of our staff members over the next few weeks, beginning with Executive Director Peter Lapsley.

A familiar face to many, Peter has been the Executive Director of Bermuda National Gallery for four years. An accomplished multimedia artist, he has exhibited in almost 60 exhibitions, including seven Bermuda Biennials, the Havana Biennial (2019) and solo shows at Masterworks (2010) and Victori+Mo Gallery in Brooklyn, NYC (2015).

Top: Peter photographed by Meredith Andrews. Above: The BNG team, from left to right Jennifer Phillips, Office Administrator; Eve Godet Thomas, Director of Programming and Engagement; Peter Lapsley, Executive Director; Rehana Packwood, Education Officer; Lara Hetzel, Volunteer and Operations Officer.

He and his wife, fellow artist Andrea Sundt, ran the concept store &PARTNERS for several years, which they opened after returning to the island in 2016 following 10 years in New York. Peter completed an MFA at Parsons School of Design – The New School before going on to manage the academic fabrication facilities at Parsons for six years and later joining City University of New York as Adjunct Professor for ART 150, where he taught sculpture. Prior to his move to NYC, Peter spent five years as Director of the Bermuda Society Arts (2001-2006).

As Executive Director of the Bermuda National Gallery, Peter has strategic oversight on all BNG initiatives and serves as a spokesperson for the gallery. Together with the Board of Trustees, Peter is responsible for the mission and vision of the museum and leads fundraising initiatives, strategic partnerships and the development of BNG’s exhibition calendar and permanent collection. Peter works closely with the team on all projects, including exhibition development, education and public programming.

Peter gives the Minister of Education, The Hon. Diallo Rabain JP, MP a tour of Our People, Our Places, Our Stories: The African Collection earlier this year.

BNG: What does a typical day at the gallery look like for you?

PL: A typical day at the gallery starts early to follow up on emails that have come in overnight, as well as getting started on the administrative items that require more immediate attention.  As a small team the day often quickly becomes collaborative on whatever project is front and center. Typically, Eve Godet Thomas (Director of Programming and Engagement) and I will catch up on both the overarching needs for the day as well as whatever individual projects are in either of our areas of focus. As the team arrive this conversation expands as individual catchups happen.

We typically have a team meeting once a week to make sure we all have a good sense of the needs for the team and where and who requires support. This happens in the gallery and is a nice benefit of the BNG… having the opportunity to be surrounded by art as we discuss and plan.

As mentioned earlier the day often becomes collaborative and depending on where we are in an exhibition cycle it can be discussing curatorial direction with Eve, helping to layout, design and install with Lara Hetzel (Volunteer and Operations Officer) when we have an exhibition going up or trouble shooting a specific exhibition need.

At other times it is working with our accounting team, grant writing, creating operational reporting, discussing the programming and exhibition needs with stakeholders and committee members, managing the shipping of artworks, contract discussion and collections management. These are just some of the daily operations I am involved in and I guess the key here is that every day is different and because of my background, which has a broad range of arts related experience, I am often pulled into supporting a wide range of needs as Executive Director.  

BNG: What part of your job do you enjoy the most and why?

PL: The bringing of an exhibition together is the most enjoyable because it is the core of what we do. There is so much work that goes into planning and organising and managing it that, when we get to the layout and the install, there isn’t any time to worry about the rest.

There is a focus and an outcome that is deeply satisfying, and it requires a different mindset. I would describe it in terms of mindfulness as there is a focused commitment to the action of the exhibition’s manifestation, of problem solving that brings one to a different space. With that said, it’s not all mindful especially as one often stands atop a 30 ft ladder…   

Peter leads the Minister for Youth Culture and Sport, Dr. the Hon. Ernest J Peets and US Consulate General Karen Grisette on a tour of the 2022 Bermuda Biennial.

BNG: What would people be most surprised to know about your role?

PL: I guess it would have to be what I have described above. That the role encompasses such a wide range of needs from the engagement with the public, stakeholders, officials, as well as administration and management of operations to discussing the conceptual underpinnings of an exhibition, and making sure of relevance to the community, to climbing a ladder to install lights, or designing and building a structure to problem solve the install of an artwork.

BNG: What is something that most people don’t know about BNG?

PL: I would have to say three things: 1. that the original concept involved artists who were seeking to have an organization that could show Bermuda’s artists at a national level as well as showcasing international artworks. 2. People assume that we are funded, and while we do have some long-term partners who we work with, we have to raise the funds for everything we do.  3. We have a very small team who manage to create exhibitions and programming that is world class and I think there is an assumption that there are more of us then there are.

Iconostasis of Water by Nancy Graves, 1992. Etching, aquatint, and dry point on Fabriano Artistico paper with screenprinted and embossed collage. Collection of Bermuda National Gallery.

BNG: What is your favourite piece in the BNG collection and why?

PL: Iconostasis of Water by Nancy Graves. I love this piece for a number of reasons. It is a large-scale work on paper at almost 8 ft long and 5 ft tall. It is about printmaking and collage with such a variety of marks elements (including an embossed fish) that I find myself constantly engaged. It is a work that I see and think dammit… I wish I had made that as I can imagine it must have been so satisfying to bring all of these elements together in such a fantastic way. The whole piece sings, it’s a must see. It is currently on loan to Clarien Bank at their new banking center in Point House.