Isla Center for the Arts was established in 1980 to provide visual art programs that were not otherwise available on the isolated island of Guam. The primary two-fold purpose of Isla was exhibition presentation and outreach service. To achieve this, plans were developed to produce an annual series of exhibitions, related workshops, lectures, guided tours and in-school presentations that would be offered to the public free of charge. The secondary purpose was resource collection development and was intended to produce a modest, but anthropologically significant collection of Micronesian artifacts. This statement of purpose became the Isla mission statement when it was formally adopted by the Board of Directors of the Isla Center for the Arts in February of 1992. This mission statement was then included in the University of Guam campus-wide Program Review in the same year and was accepted and endorsed by the University’s Board of Regents when the Center formally merged with the University in September of 1994.
Because Guam sits at commercial, transportational, educational and cultural cross-roads in the Western Pacific, institutions on Guam, such as Isla, have an excellent opportunity to influence the entire region. Isla programs attempt to promote an increased appreciation of the cultures of the Western Pacific while offering the people of the area the opportunity to view art from other areas of the world.
Isla is a part of the University of Guam and plays a major role in fulfilling the University's broad objectives as a research institution and educational resource for the entire Micronesian region. Isla's permanent collection focuses on the preservation of the indigenous arts and crafts of Micronesia and its exhibition program gives special emphasis to improving the cultural awareness of island students from kindergarten through college. Shows are chosen each year so that that at least one has special appeal for each audience group.
Museum-going children become museum-going adults and by tapping the youth and young adults of the area, the Center hopes to provide distinctive and enjoyable cultural experiences that establish patterns of museum-going behavior in a segment of the community which might not otherwise have access to such experiences.