Located in Merrion Square adjacent to Leinster House, the National Gallery now houses the National collection of historic Irish & European fine art. Over the past 150 years the series of buildings, which make up the Gallery were developed and in 2002 was inaugurated with the Millennium wing, the structure and purpose for this intervention is to allow for future development, it also meant that a new entrance to the Gallery was opened on Clare Street, this work was done by London based architects, Benson & Forsyth.
The National Gallery collection now holds over 15,000 works of art, which dates from the 13th to the 20th Century. In the print gallery ‘Jack of All Trades’ – Yeats punch cartoons and illustrations by Irish Artists is now open and a selection of paintings from the European and Irish collections; a display of works by Jack B.Yeats has recently been added.
The Gallery came about when in 1852 William Dargan, approached the Royal Dublin Society with an offer to underwrite a spectacular exhibition on Leinster Lawn, he had ideas about an exhibition that had taken place in London. 11 months later on May 12th the exhibition was opened, John Benson done the architectural work. In 1866 an annual purchase grant of £1000 (old Irish Pounds) was allocated for pictures for the exhibition & in 1901 the Countess of Milltown gave over 200 pictures, furniture, books and a collection of silver to the gallery from her house at Russborough, Co Wicklow, her gift was so substantial that the Gallery had to expand its space and a new construction was built.
In 1968 the Gallery was extended again and this was done after the generous gift of 17 outstanding old master pictures from Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, the designs of the construction were by Frank DuBerry and today is name the ‘Beit Wing’.
In 1993 the Gallery received a lot more attention when Caravaggio’s ‘The Taking of Christ’ painting recorded in contemporary biographies on the artist and known through copies, but not long believed to be lost or destroyed it was discovered in a Jesuit house of studies in Dublin. Today the picture still remains in the Gallery but is said to be on loan from the Jesuit fathers.
The Gallery will soon be going under construction for a major refurbishment of the Dargan and Milltown wings.
The Museum is open 9.30am-5.30pm Monday to Saturdays, 9.30am-5.30pm Thursdays and 12-5.30pm on Sundays.
Take bus numbers 4, 7, 7a & 8 from the end of O’ Connell Street to Merrion Square & Clare Street to reach the Museum.
National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square West