Our Story: Caetani Cultural Centre
The 120+ year old Caetani Cultural Centre is a 6,000 sq. ft. designated heritage house, situated on 1.3 acres of land on lower East Hill. The facility is operated by The Caetani Cultural Centre Society as a registered not for profit charitable organization, and the house and grounds are owned in trust by the City of Vernon.
The House – built in 1895 by Samuel Sommerville, the house is a designated heritage site, and described as Late Victorian Vernacular Revival style. (Designated 86.03.10 (Bylaw #3370, HRA Bylaw#4813 – HRA-2003-018).
The former home of Sveva Ersilia Giovannella Maria Caetani – artist, writer, teacher and mentor – Sveva was locally known as ‘the Countess’ due to her aristocratic background and she was a visionary figure in the community with a deep belief in culture, knowledge and artistic endeavours.
The mysterious and heartbreaking story behind the history of the house and its inhabitants provides a gateway to understanding our recent past, opening a window to a much different world and shedding light on the many artworks and writings created by our benefactor Sveva Caetani, artist, teacher and mentor. Following the death of her father in 1935 she was kept a virtual prisoner in her own home for 25 years by her invalid mother until 1960. Her story is one of overcoming adversity and rising above her circumstances. Sveva left her 1.3 acres of gardens and historic home to the community of Greater Vernon in 1994 with the express wish that it serve as a community cultural facility for artistic and critical exploration.
Artist and Writer in Residence Program
The home was divided into four self-contained apartments by Sveva in the 1960’s that have slowly been restored and converted into use by the Artist and Writer in Residence Program, allowing visiting artists from all over the world to live and work in our community. Several independent studios are rented out to local practising artists. The house and grounds were bequeathed to the City of Vernon in 1994 by Sveva Caetani for use as a community cultural centre. In 2008 a separate society was formed to manage this.
Sveva’s vision for her home has become reality and is now being carried out through creative and thought-provoking programming. The Caetani Centre (C3) provides a venue for visual artists from around Canada and the world to explore a diverse range of arts practices, theories and experiences through our Residency programs for visual artists, writers, curators, and creative individuals.
C3 provides quality arts facilities that allow artists and writers to experiment, develop new ideas and interact with fellow artists and the community through talks, workshops and exhibitions. Programming includes partnerships with additional community organizations to encourage artists to approach creativity, exploration and research in different ways and present the community both locally and globally with new ways of seeing, experiencing and interpreting arts and the environment around us.
Museum and Tours
In the summer of 2021, the Centre opened for tours of the various collections – including haute couture items from the 1920s, an extensive digitized home film and photographic collection of vintage Vernon and Europe, and of course, the repatriation and return to Vernon of the famous Sveva Caetani Recapitulation Series from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts in Edmonton, who kept the collection together and under their care for over 35 years.
Sveva Caetani Recapitulation Artwork
Formerly housed for over 35 years at the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, located in Edmonton, Alberta, the Recapitulation series was retuned to Vernon n March 2021.
The complete works of 47 large scale watercolour works, consisting of 60 separate paintings, for the Recapitulation series can be viewed online at the Caetani website.