National Gallery of Ireland announces 150th anniversary programme for 2014.

Share your memories of the Gallery

PRESS RELEASE: 27 November 2013

National Gallery of Ireland announces 150th anniversary programme for 2014.


In 2014, the National Gallery of Ireland will celebrate its 150th anniversary with an expanded programme of special displays and ancillary events which will document the Gallery’s history from 1864 to the present day. There will be collaborative projects with contemporary artists and writers, and a series of anniversary talks focusing on the many individuals and institutions in Ireland who defined the structure of the Gallery over the years. The Gallery will also demonstrate, through its programme of exhibitions and talks, the extent to which its collections have developed under each director over its 150 year history, whether by way of gift, bequest or purchase.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, says: “This anniversary year is a timely opportunity for the Gallery to look at the many achievements of the past and aspirations for the future. Since the Gallery opened its doors to the public in 1864, it has always endeavoured to expand and care for its collections and continues to ensure that more of the collection is accessible to the public. The programme for 2014 will draw on the extensive holdings of European and Irish art and will celebrate the contributions of individuals and organisations associated with the National Gallery over its 150 year history.”

The exhibitions programme will start in December with New Portraits (14 December – 9 February 2014), featuring works which have been recently acquired for the National Portrait Collection. Included are images of prominent figures who have made decisive contributions to contemporary Ireland: Samuel Beckett, Michael Scott, Seamus Heaney; Dr Anthony Cronin, and Michael Longley.

The New Year will open with the annual exhibition of Turner watercolours (1-31 January), always a popular attraction in the Gallery’s calendar. This year the focus will be on the Vaughan Bequest of 31 watercolours which will be shown for the first time in their original frames. It will be followed by ‘Care of the Collection’ (18 January – 30 May 2014) featuring three key works to demonstrate the various approaches to conservation at the Gallery from the 1960s to the present day. The paintings, by Silvenstro dei Gherarducci, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Maestro del Tondo di Cortona, will be shown alongside photographic documentation on the conservation of the three works.

To commemorate the official opening date of the National Gallery of Ireland by the Earl of Carlisle on 30th January 1864, there will be an exhibition devoted to the history of the Gallery with a particular focus on the important contribution of patrons and benefactors to the development of a national collection. From the Archives: The Story of the National Gallery of Ireland (30 January – 14 December) will feature over 100 items from the NGI Archives, Library, comprising historical records, registers, photographs, correspondence and architectural plans that are an integral part of the history of the Gallery. Coming up in Spring 2014 is a display around Governors, Guardians, Artists (15 February – 11 May), featuring the work of RHA artists who were nominated by the RHA as members to the Gallery’s Board of Governors and Guardians, such as George Petrie, John Lavery, Nathaniel Hone, Sarah Purser, Jack B. Yeats, Evie Hone and Seán Keating.

In May, the Gallery will celebrate two great donations to the National Gallery from Russborough, Co. Wicklow: The Milltown Gift (1902) and the Beit Gift (1987), with an exhibition, Russborough Revisited (17 May – 24 August). The exhibition will coincide with the launch of a new book on Russborough, written by William Laffan and Kevin Mulligan.

As part of the autumn programme in 2014, the Gallery will present Ireland’s Writers and the National Gallery of Ireland -working title-( 7 October 2014 – 12 April 2015). Over fifty Irish writers have contributed original stories, essays and poems to a collection of new writing inspired by the National Gallery of Ireland. Published by Thames and Hudson with the NGI, the book will be illustrated with images of the art-works selected by the writers. To complement this collection of new writing, the Gallery has organised an exhibition of the works featured in the publication, among them Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Poussin, Jack Yeats, Gerard Dillon.

As part of the anniversary year, the Gallery has organised a series of talks focusing on the key figures and organisations associated with the National Gallery of Ireland, such as William Dargan, the RDS, OPW, RIA. There will be talks monthly on each of the Gallery Directors, starting on 28 January with a talk on George Mulvany, first director of the NGI from 1862-1869. Contemporary Irish Artists is a Thursday evening series in February and March bringing together Irish artists in conversation with writers, art critics and museum professionals. Other themed talks in the in the anniversary year are Governors, Guardians, Artists ; The RHA & the NGI, Themes of War and Conflict; Russborough and Great Benefactors, and Treasures of the NGI Collections.

 ‘Memories’ online and onsite is a special project organised as part of the NGI 150th programme inviting visitors from Ireland and overseas to share their memories of the National Gallery of Ireland via email, twitter or by post. These memories will be posted up in the Gallery and on the Gallery’s website and facebook pages.

A variety of events are organised for all ages and interests, including the NGI 150 Anniversary Trail, Children’s 150 Gallery as well as family programmes and workshops.

The 10th Annual Drawing Day will be launched on 17 May by James Hanley RHA and the 50th Anniversary of the Christmas Family Art Holiday, which was introduced in 1964 by James White, director from 1964-1980, will take place from 29 to 31 December 2014.

Further information on the NGI 150th Anniversary programme will be posted on our website.


Additional Information

National Gallery Timeline 1864-1914 (MS Word 1MB)

Exhibitions 2014 (MS Word 1MB)

Lectures 2014 (MS Word 1MB)

Special Events 2014 (MS Word 1MB)