Press Release: 30 April 2014
This afternoon (Wednesday 30th April), the statue of William Dargan in the forecourt of the National Gallery of Ireland on Merrion Square West was moved from its plinth in the forecourt of the Gallery to facilitate preparation works for the excavation of a new energy centre. The works are part of the Gallery’s refurbishment project of the historic buildings, namely the Dargan and Milltown Wings which date to 1864 and 1903 respectively.
The bronze statue of Dargan (2.58 metres high) by Thomas Farrell RHA (1827-1900) has not left the National Gallery since it was unveiled 150 years ago by the Lord Lieutenant George Howard, 7th Earl of Carlisle, on 30th January 1864. Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland said: “Dargan is one of the true benefactors of the National Gallery of Ireland. He provided the impetus needed to drive the eventual establishment of a National Gallery. For passersby on Merrion Square West Dargan is a familiar presence and symbolic of the Gallery. His move from the Gallery’s forecourt will allow the Project Team to prepare essential works for the construction of an energy centre as part of the refurbishment project of these historic buildings. We will be sad to see Dargan go however he will be safeguarded by OPW and will be back here in two years time when the Dargan and Milltown Wings re-open in 2016."
NGI Refurbishment Project 2014-2016
The refurbishment project is managed by the Office of Public Works Management Services, with Heneghan Peng Architects, and John Paul Construction as the main contractor. The first phase of the project commenced in March 2011 and involved the repair of the Dargan Wing roof (completed May 2012). Preparations for the second phase of the refurbishment project commenced in February 2014 and will continue through to 2016. The project over the next two years will involve the repair of the Milltown Wing roof, the installation of 21st century climate, heating, fire suppression, electrical and energy efficient LED lighting system. It will also see the introduction of essential modern environmental and air conditioning control systems to maintain the optimum climate for the collection. An energy centre to provide for these services will be built under a redesigned forecourt at the Merrion Square entrance. The project will also see the reopening of Victorian features and spaces within the Dargan and Milltown Wings, previously unseen by the public. When completed, the National Gallery of Ireland will be equipped as a world-leading gallery space, meeting the international standards for the presentation of both its own collections and visiting artworks from other important collections.
Access to the Gallery during the course of refurbishment is via the Millennium Wing at Clare Street, Dublin 2, where visitors can enjoy access to the best of the European and Irish collection, new displays and ancillary programmes for all ages. Admission to the Gallery is free.