New director steps into the frame
He and Sarah Glennie, Imma’s incoming director, have been looking at ways of working more closely together. There are areas where increased cooperation clearly makes sense, including conservation and library services, but also thornier issues.
“We’re approaching it with a constructive attitude. But the devil is in the detail. The composition of boards, for example. You really want a board composed of people who are passionate about their institution. In that respect, I’d be very happy to keep working here within the status quo.”
Continuing financial instability makes planning difficult, even problematic. Already there have been delays to the work on the building, though he’s impressed at the way the project is now progressing, under the management of Heneghan Peng Architects. He sees the next stage of the gallery’s development in terms of a 10-year plan. The often hidden aspects of the gallery – including education, library, workshop and other facilities – are, he feels, absolutely central “rather than add-ons.”
The National Gallery of Ireland first opened its doors, in what is now the Dargan Wing, in 1864. If all goes according to plan, that wing and the whole gallery will reopen “on our 150th-plus-one anniversary”. In the meantime, apart from planning for that moment, Rainbird reckons he and his staff have their work cut out. “There is a great deal to be done, and my feeling is that we can accomplish a lot in the next three years here.”
CV: Sean Rainbird
Sean Rainbird was born in Hong Kong in 1959. He studied art history and German at University College London, Freiburg University and the Free University Berlin. He joined the Tate Gallery London as an assistant keeper in 1987, becoming a senior curator in 2003. In 2000 he moved to Tate Modern.
A specialist in German art, he worked on the acquisition of a wide range of 20th-century works and curated substantial exhibitions by a large number of artists including Gerhard Richter, Max Beckmann, Joseph Beuys, Piet Mondrian, Per Kirkeby, Wassily Kandinsky and Bridget Riley.
In November 2006 he was appointed director of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart. There, he oversaw substantial renovation works and was an advocate of a free admissions policy.
His exhibition programme generated some debate for its concentration on the Staatsgalerie’s extensive permanent collection, from medieval Swabian to contemporary art. His appointment to the National Gallery of Ireland was announced in December last year.