National Gallery of Ireland

Gailearaí Náisiúnta na hÉireann

The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin boasts some 2,500 paintings and approximately 10,000 other works in different media including water-colours, drawings, prints and sculpture. Every major European school of painting is extensively represented. It also houses a renowned collection of Irish paintings, the majority of which are on permanent display.

The gallery was established by an Act of Parliament in 1854 and first opened its doors to the public in January 1864.

There is a Yeats museum with works by Jack B Yeats, his father John Butler and other members of this artistic family. There is also an award-winning Millennium Wing. It is conveniently located near Dublin city centre, a short stroll from Trinity College and Merrion Square and just 10 minutes away from the Dublin Citi Hotel. You can visit the National Gallery of Ireland on Monday at 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:15 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Thursdays to 20:30) and on Sundays from 11:00 to 5:30.

Millennium Wing

A new wing, called the Millennium Wing, was opened in 2002. Unlike the previous two extensions, this new wing has street frontage and the English architects Benson & Forsyth gave it an imposing Bowers Whitbed, Portland Stone façade and grand atrium. The design originally involved demolishing an adjoining Georgian terrace house and its ballroom mews; however, the Irish planning appeals authority, An Bord Pleanála, required that they are retained. The Millennium Wing is not without its critics: it is unforgiving of poor maintenance and the compromise in the design as required by An Bord Pleanala resulted in a final design diluted from the original competition-winning building concept. The circulation space also lacks clarity, but it is generally considered that these flaws are trivial details set against the drama of the building. In line with its Brutalist style, the interior concrete walls are still unsealed.

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Collection has been an integral part of the National Gallery of Ireland since the late nineteenth century. It was suggested as early as 1872, a short number of years after the foundation of the National Gallery of Ireland itself. The gallery’s then Director, Henry Doyle, envisaged a collection modelled on the National Portrait Gallery in London, but his application for funding was refused by the Treasury on the grounds that in the London gallery ‘eminent Irishmen are represented indiscriminately with Englishmen and Scotchmen.

The collection has been enhanced greatly in recent years by important acquisitions and commissioned works by living artists. Since 1998, with both corporate and private assistance, the Gallery has commissioned ten portraits of celebrated figures. These commissions play a key role in developing the character and breadth of the Portrait Collection and celebrating artistic practice in Ireland. A commission results annually from the Hennessy Portrait Prize, a collaboration between the Gallery and Moët-Hennessy, inaugurated in 2014.

The fields of Irish endeavour represented in the National Portrait Collection now range from sport, literature and broadcasting to theatre and social justice. Among the most recent additions to the collection are Colin Davidson’s portrait of poet Michael Longley (2012), Geraldine O’Neill’s portrait of designer John Rocha (2015) and Vera Klute’s portrait of theatre director Garry Hynes (2017). A selection of works from the collection is on display in the Portrait Gallery in Room 23 in the Dargan Wing.

The general collection is free. From Dublin Citi Hotel is a 10-15 min walk.

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