Behind the Scenes at the National Gallery of Ireland

Behind the Scenes

To celebrate 150 years of the Gallery, we will be introducing different members of the NGI team every week. This week, we ask CSIA intern Niamh Keaveney a few questions...

How long have you worked at the Gallery, and what does your job entail? I have worked here for four months so far. I applied for the Internship at the Centre for the Study of Irish Art within the gallery, and that’s where I am based today. There are two parts to my internship: the first is my role as a researcher. For example, I have contributed to the research for the Governors, Guardians and Artists exhibition which is currently on show in Room 1. I also help oversee the running of the centre by assisting readers with enquiries and sourcing the relevant material for their studies. 

What is a typical day like for you? The Centre was established in 2002 as an archive and library facility for the study of Irish Art. I usually start the day in the CSIA, with the help of my colleague, Shauna, by setting up the Centre for the day. We arrange new appointments, reply to email queries and prepare the relevant material for the appointments for that day. Material for appointments can include secondary texts, auction catalogues, artist and galleries files or rare books and archival material. We also have various projects which we work on throughout the day which can vary.

What did you study? I studied History in Trinity College Dublin and then I studied History of Irish Art as an M.Phil in Trinity as well. Both were very rewarding experiences.

What is your favourite thing about working at the National Gallery? It is such a stimulating working environment. In order to get to lunch, I pass through the Beit Wing where the Masterpieces from the Collection are currently on display. I always think to myself it must be one of the most beautiful walks to anyone’s lunch in Ireland. I pass by work belonging to Vermeer, CaravaggioPicasso and many more. One of the nicest parts to this is seeing the look on students faces as they see these paintings for what is sometimes the very first time.

Can you describe an interesting or memorable experience you’ve had at the Gallery? My time spent working on the Governors, Guardians and Artists exhibition was a very fulfilling learning experience. Donal Maguire, the administrator for the Centre for the Study of Irish Art, was the curator for the exhibition and involved the interns from the CSIA in its development. I was able to see first hand how an exhibition can start off as one idea before it then goes through the various stages of development such as research, editing, advertisement and arranging the items in the gallery space.

What is your first memory of the National Gallery? The first time I visited the National Gallery, I was only a small girl. However, I remember quite strongly my reaction to Daniel Maclise’s The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife. I was struck mostly by its sheer enormity. There were few things I had come across in life at that stage that were that size, let alone a painting! While working here, I was lucky enough to see the painting in Conservation. I am looking forward to seeing it back on the walls of the gallery again.

Read previous Behind the Scenes with staff members

Behind the Scenes with Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery