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The National Gallery of Ireland reopens its historic wings after multi-million revamp

The Dargan and Milltown wings opened today for the first time since 2011.

Image: Gregord Dunn/RTE

THE NATIONAL GALLERY of Ireland re-opened its doors today with over 650 works of art on display in its historic wings, following extensive refurbishment and modernisation.

The Dargan wing closed in 2011 for refurbishment and the Milltown wing followed suit in 2014.

The wings will be open to the general public from 9am tomorrow morning.

The permanent collections of art in the Dargan and Milltown wings of the gallery have been re-designed.

Irish artworks are being hung on the ground floor, with collections from Daniel Maclise, Roderic O’Connor, John Lavery and Jack B. Yeats. Art from other European collections is being hung on the upper floor.

The art will be displayed chronologically rather than in its previous country-specific layout.

Established in 1854, the gallery houses over 16,300 works of art. 

More than 150 new pieces of art have been acquired by the gallery since it closed for refurbishment in 2011.

Grand Gallery, scaffolding Grand Gallery, scaffolding Source: RTE

John Francis, Site Manager, John Paul Construction (photo by Matthew Thompson) John Francis, Site Manager Source: Matthew Thompson/RTE

The multi-million euro refurbishment project began in March 2011, with the replacement of the Dargan wing roof, at a cost of just over €2 million.

Since then, the Milltown wing roof has been replaced, along with the repair and restoration of the fabric of its wings. This refurbishment cost an estimated €25.8 million, with a final figure currently unavailable.

A new courtyard was built to fill the space between the wings of the gallery.

Since the refurbishment, over 450 paintings and sculptures were brought into the conservation studio for treatment.

NGI Dargan Wing NGI Dargan Wing Source: RTE

Sean Rainbird, NGI Director (photo by Matthew Thompson.) Sean Rainbird, NGI Director Source: Matthew Thompson/RTE

Enda Kenny made his final appearance as acting-Taoiseach to re-launch the space today, accompanied by Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue and Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys.

“It is appropriate that we are here today to honour and celebrate our National Gallery and our national collections in this time where culture is coming to the fore of our minds in the context of the fantastic work being done through the Creative Ireland programme,” Kenny said.

Creative Ireland is the Government’s five-year initiative to place creativity at the centre of public policy.

“I’ve traveled the roads over the past few years and I’ve seen the emergence of art on the motorways, the dual carriageways, and different spaces and places where local authorities and national authorities provide money to local artists for their artistic endeavors.”

There is a continued and growing recognition that culture is what we are and what we need to focus on as a diverse, creative, multi-cultural, welcoming and forward-looking society.

The first exhibition to open in the revamped space is the ‘Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry’, opening this Saturday.

Read: ‘Why would you continue to perpetuate something that is wrong?’: New mural challenges Ireland’s drug laws

More: Over 100 children receive awards for their incredible artwork today

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