Galapagos Conservation Trust

To develop a society that benefits from a more sustainable relationship with the natural world and understands the value of its resources

Our partnership with the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) developed from a simple enquiry – were there innovative ways of engaging the public in the environmental, social and political context of the Islands, a microcosm of world concerns?

A robust partnership between the Foundation and the GCT evolved from this tentative question, culminating in the Gulbenkian Galapagos Artists’ Residency Programme which ran from a pilot in 2007 to its completion in 2011. The Gulbenkian Galapagos exhibition showcased new work made by 13 artists and toured three venues between 2012 and 2013 – The Bluecoat in Liverpool, the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, and the Foundation’s own gallery, the Centro de Arte Moderna (CAM), in Lisbon.

The project met the core aims of the UK Branch’s Environment theme, which is to help in the development of a society that benefits from a more sustainable relationship with the natural world and understands the value of its resources. Its development from a small pilot project to an international exhibition demonstrates the way in which the Foundation nurtures an idea and sees it through to fruition. It reflects a number of the Foundation’s core concerns: environmental awareness leading to responsible action, the socio-political impact of change in an increasingly globalised world, a greater cultural understanding of migrant communities and an enhanced awareness of the role of the arts within wider cultural debates.

The partnership was founded on mutual trust and respect between the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the arts professionals, the Galapagos Director and a panel of environmental specialists, which has led to good decision-making. The Foundation contributed its arts knowledge and experience of inter-disciplinary work in art and science to GCT’s environmental expertise and its organisational skills in negotiating in an international context.

Felipe Cruz, Technical Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation, said:

The artists’ visits made a significant contribution to the development of a culture that is contemporary and therefore owned by the relatively new community of the Galapagos.

A book on the Galapagos Artists’ Residency Programme was published in 2012 and offers unique perspectives on the Galapagos Islands by contemporary artists. An evaluation of the entire project, which assesses its achievements and public impact is available to read.

Further information on the project can be found its website:

Updated on 13 September 2016