In 2010, Sir Denis Mahon presented his library and archive to the Gallery.
The books and documentation represent decades of research and scholarship. This remarkable gift greatly enhances the research resources relating to European art available in Ireland.
Between January and May 2010, a team of library, archive and conservation staff from the Gallery organised and packed the collection at Mahon's house in Knightsbridge, London. Close to 1,000 bankers boxes were then transported to Merrion Square, Dublin.
Sir Denis Mahon Library
Over 600 banker’s boxes contained library material. Between 2012 and 2013 these boxes were unpacked and then cleaned to remove surface dirt. The items were sorted and shelved in preparation for processing and cataloguing. Basic preservation work and condition assessments were carried out to identify future conservation requirements. Processing and cataloguing of the library collection began in 2014. The publications include books, catalogues, journals, conference proceedings, guide books and pamphlets. More than 500 rare and antiquarian volumes have been identified and catalogued to date. Highlights of the collection include first and second editions of Giorgio Vasari’s Vite (1550; 1568), Lassels’ Voyage of Italy (1670), and a rare first edition of Annibale Carracci’s Diverse Figure (1646).
Sir Denis Mahon Archive
Sir Denis’s fascinating archive consists of correspondence and academic notes relating to collections and individual works of art, in particular Italian art and artists. A substantial fototeca of photographs, prints and glass plate negatives is of significant research value. In addition, there are papers relating to his work with various committees and boards and his lobbying activity on behalf of the arts. Family papers include details of the Mahon, Browne and Vesey families of Castelgar Co. Galway, and Westport Co. Mayo. The gift also includes furniture, silver and works of art.
Sir Denis Mahon Reading Room
In 2015, thanks to the support of the Sir Denis Mahon Trust a reading room dedicated to the memory of Sir Denis was opened in the Gallery. This is located in No. 90 Merrion Square and is open to the public by appointment for consultation and study of the collection.