The National Gallery of Ireland has been nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious museum accolades, the annual European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA). The youngest museum in Ireland, the EPIC Museum of Emigration, which opened in May 2016, has also been nominated for the award.
The EMYA is Europe’s longest running award for museums, having been founded in 1977. It is given to a museum that attracts audiences and satisfies its visitors with a unique atmosphere, imaginative interpretation and presentation, with a creative approach to education and social responsibility.
The National Gallery reopened this year after a six-year refurbishment and has attracted more than one million visitors in 2017 which represents a more than 100 per cent increase on the previous year. The opening exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry attracted more than 100,000 visitors from June 17th to September 17th 2017.
Valerie Keogh, press and communications officer in the National Gallery of Ireland said: "This is a very prestigious award and we are delighted to have been shortlisted. This year we hit one million visitors and it has been wonderful to see the joy the collection has brought to so many visitors."
The opening of the gallery was described by Frank McDonald in The Irish Times as “a revelation, quite literally. The long-awaited renovation of the National Gallery of Ireland on Dublin’s Merrion Square has revealed elements of the building that have never been seen by members of the public, as well as windows that were blocked up for decades, with startling effect.” The work was carried out by architects Heneghan Peng.
EPIC is a museum that looks at Ireland's experience of emigration. It opened in the CHQ building in Dublin's docklands in May 2016. It is the world's first fully digital museum and had 120,000 visitors in its first year. It is a privately funded museum, and was developed by former chairman and ceo of Coca Cola, Nigel Isdell.
Sales and marketing director for EPIC, Aileesh Carew says: “It’s a huge honour to be shortlisted for the EMYA, especially when we’re being judged next to long-established museums of the calibre of the National Gallery.”
The Irish museums are two of 40 museums from 22 countries in the running for the top prize, which will be awarded in May 2018. Other museums include Lascaux International Centre for Cave Art (France), Egyptian Museum of Torino, (Italy), the Museum of Russian Impressionism (Moscow), and the Design Museum, London. The winning museum will receive the EMYA trophy The Egg by Henry Moore which it keeps for one year.
Past winners have been both large and small, and are assessed on the basis of their outstanding public quality and innovative practices. There has been just one Irish winner, the Chester Beatty Library, in 2002.