National Gallery of Ireland announces exhibitions for 2020

Abstract painting of a grid of grey, red, black, blue and yellow
Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), Composition with large red plane, yellow, black, gray and blue, 1921. Courtesy of Kunstmuseum Den Haag, The Hague, The NetherlandsCredit

Important notice:
Following the temporary closure of the National Gallery of Ireland in March 2020, the following changes have been made to the Gallery’s exhibition programme:

  • With great regret, the difficult decision has been taken to cancel Irish Horse, which had been due to open in April 2020. The Gallery would like to thank all of its lenders for their support and understanding. 
  • Murillo: The Prodigal Son Restored, which opened in Room 31 (Hugh Lane Room) on 29 February 2020, has been extended to 10 January 2021.
  • Glamour and Governance will open in Room 31 (Hugh Lane Room) on 23 January 2021, and run until 16 May 2021.
  • Mondrian now opens on 4 November 2020 and runs until 14 February 2021 in the Beit Wing.
  • The Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize exhibitions will open on 21 November 2020 and run until 21 March 2021.


The National Gallery of Ireland today announces its programme of exhibitions for 2020 featuring themes including Irish botanical art, conservation, and the Irish horse, as well as the first Irish exhibition of the work of Piet Mondrian. 

The first major exhibition of the year will explore the place of the horse in Irish life and art from the eighteenth century to the present day. Irish Horse features work by artists including William Orpen, Jack B. Yeats, Basil Blackshaw, Alfred James Munnings and Kim Haughton, and opens on 25 April 2020 in the Beit Wing. 

Later in the year, the Beit Wing plays host to the first exhibition of the work of Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) in Ireland. Visitors will have a rare chance to see works by one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, from all periods of his fascinating career. Mondrian opens on 7 October 2020 and runs until 17 January 2021.

The Gallery’s much-loved Turner watercolours will go on display in the Print Gallery from 1 January 2020. In addition to the popular Turner works, watercolours and drawings by over 20 other artists inspired by Turner such as William Leech, Evie Hone and Paul Cézanne, will feature in Turner: The Visionary.

For the first time in thirty years, a series of paintings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617-1682) will be on display at the Gallery. Murillo: The Prodigal Son Restored opens in the Room 31 (Hugh Lane Room) on 29 February 2020. The exhibition marks the end of a conservation and research project at the Gallery on six works by one of the most celebrated painters of the Spanish Golden Age.

Spanning almost 300 years, Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art features the work of pioneering men and women who made significant contributions to art and science. Prints, drawings and illustrated books by artists including William Kilburn and Lady Edith Blake will be on display in the Print Gallery from 7 March 2020.

Marking 70 years since the death of George Bernard Shaw, Shaw and the Gallery: A Priceless Education illustrates the writer’s fascinating life and relationship with the Gallery through postcards, letters and sculptures from the Gallery’s Archives. On display in Room 11 from 23 May 2020.

Prints by the Dublin-born, Canada-based artist George Wallace (1920-2009) will be on display for the first time in Ireland next year. George Wallace: Reflections on Life spans a prolific career of over 50 years and features etchings, monotypes, woodcuts and drawings. Opens in the Print Gallery on 4 July 2020.

Spectacular clothes and extravagant personalities are on display at Glamour and Governance in Room 31 (Hugh Lane Room) from 12 September 2020. Featuring highlights from the Gallery’s collection of portraits from the sixteenth century including Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh. 

The ever-popular Zurich Portrait Prize will return in 2020, alongside the Zurich Young Portrait Prize for young people under the age of 18. Both exhibitions will open on 14 November 2020. 

Exhibitions at the Gallery in 2020 will be complemented by an inclusive education, learning and engagement programme. Alongside this, a diverse year-round public programme will be dedicated to exploring the collection, the building and the archive. Outreach activity will include offsite baby- and early-years workshops, providing respite for families experiencing homelessness, in association with Focus Ireland. A national outreach programme for schools will be undertaken as well as an expanded programme for third-level students. Something from There, the Gallery’s long-term project with people living in direct provision, will continue in 2020 with an artistic showcase. With the recently launched Apollo Project, the Gallery will further its commitment to providing programming for young people by young people.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, said, “We strive to make the Gallery an exciting place to encounter art. In 2020, our dynamic series of exhibitions will provide many unmissable moments for Irish and international audiences next year: from the first exhibition of Mondrian’s work in Ireland; to a fascinating exhibition focusing on the Irish horse; to a celebration of one of our most-loved writers, George Bernard Shaw.”

See the full listing of upcoming exhibitions here


Exhibition listings:
Turner: The Visionary | 1 – 31 January 2020 
Print Gallery | Curators: Niamh MacNally & Adrian Le Harivel | Free admission
Kindly sponsored by Sarasin & Partners.

Murillo: The Prodigal Son Restored | 29 February – 30 August 2020 
Room 31 | Curators: Muirne Lydon & Dr Aoife Brady | Free admission
Generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

Drawn from Nature: Irish Botanical Art | 7 March – 21 June 2020 
Print Gallery | Curators: Patricia Butler & Janet McLean | Free admission

Irish Horse | 25 April – 16 August 2020 
Beit Wing | Curator: Dr Brendan Rooney | Ticketed

Shaw and the Gallery: A Priceless Education | 23 May 2020 – 4 April 2021 
Room 11 | Curator: Leah Benson | Free admission
Part of a series of annual exhibitions by the National Gallery of Ireland’s ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art (ESB CSIA).

George Wallace: Reflections on Life | 4 July – 29 November 2020 
Print Gallery | Curator: Anne Hodge | Free admission

Glamour and Governance | 12 September 2020 – 21 January 2021 
Room 31 | Curator: Adrian Le Harivel | Free admission

Mondrian | 7 October 2020 – 17 January 2021 
Beit Wing | Curators: Sean Rainbird & Janet McLean | Ticketed

Zurich Portrait Prize | 14 November 2020 – 14 February 2021 
Room 23 | Free admission

Zurich Young Portrait Prize | 14 November 2020 – 14 February 2021
Free admission