National Gallery to get €20m upgrade before 2016
The National Gallery is to get a €20 million upgrade and form a key part of the plans for the 1916 centenary commemorations.
The investment amounts to its biggest single refurbishment project since the gallery was opened in 1864.
The two-year project will see the refurbishment of the Dargan wing, which is part of the original building and is one of the biggest halls in Dublin, and the Milltown wing, which was added in 1903.
Both rooms have been closed since 2011, when the Dargan wing’s roof was repaired by the Office of Public Works.
The exchequer will provide 80 per cent of the funding, with the rest coming from the gallery’s resources. The project will go to tender shortly with a view to being finished by 2015. Some 300 people, many of them specialists, will be employed on the project.
Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan said the funding was being provided by the Government at a time when resources were limited because the gallery would be a centrepiece of the 1916 commemorations.
He said both wings would provide large meeting spaces to host Government receptions. He said he hoped the gallery would be able to attract one million visitors a year, a third more than at present.
Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin said he was “delighted to have been able to facilitate the project”.
In a statement, he said he was “particularly happy the National Gallery will be fully re-opened in pristine condition in time for the 1916 centenary”.
The refurbishment will see the installation of climatecontrol, fire-safety and security systems. Architects involved said much of the work would not be apparent to the public as it involved systems normally hidden from view in buildings.
The refurbishment is seen as critical for the long-term preservation of works of art that require temperature-controlled environments. Neither wing currently has such facilities.
“In truth, when people come back in they might not see a lot of what is done, but it will look sharper,” said architect Róisín Heneghan. “The fabric of the building needs to be restored.”
Victorian features and spaces within the building previously unseen by the public will be opened to public view, and a new connection with the gallery’s Millennium wing on Clare Street will be installed.