Ministers Deenihan, Howlin and Hayes visit National Gallery of Ireland to mark commencement of major refurbishment works

Issued 17 January 2014

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  • Investment is largest single refurbishment of the historic buildings at National Gallery of Ireland since opening 150 years ago (1864) 
  • €26 million project will repair and restore Dargan and Milltown Wings
  • Approximately 280 jobs to be supported over timeline of project
  • Expanded exhibition footprint, and 21st century requirements for internationally important collection, will be delivered as part of project

 Thursday, January 16th 2014 - Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Brendan Howlin TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Brian Hayes TD, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, visited the National Gallery of Ireland today at the commencement of a €26 million refurbishment project on the historic building.

The Ministers were accompanied by the Chair of the National Gallery Dr Olive Braiden, Director Mr Sean Rainbird, and Mr Eamon Booth, Managing Director, John Paul Construction.

This major renovation project is being jointly funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the National Gallery of Ireland and the Office of Public Works. The project is expected to support approximately 280 jobs over its lifetime, and is expected to take 24 months to complete. The contract for the project has been awarded to John Paul Construction Ltd following a tendering process which was completed in late 2013.

The refurbishment, which coincides with the Gallery’s 150th anniversary, will include:

  • The repair and restoration of the fabric of the Dargan and Milltown Wings, and the Merrion Entrance, whilst upgrading the buildings to modern gallery standards.
  • The installation of 21st century climate, heating, fire suppression, electrical, lighting and security systems.
  • The reopening of Victorian features and spaces within the building previously unseen by the public.
  • The conversion of spaces between the wings for public use and as exhibition spaces to include the provision of a sculpture court
  • The protection and preservation of the building itself, as well as the provision of universal access for all visitors throughout the building.

 

Speaking at the Gallery today, Minister Jimmy Deenihan said: "It gives me immense pride to be here today at the start of an historic project in one of our most important historic buildings. The National Gallery of Ireland, now in its 150th year, is a leading national cultural institution with a globally important collection of European and international art. This project marks a rebirth for the historic Dargan and Milltown Wings and will safeguard these historic buildings, and the priceless works of art that they hold, for future generations."

Minister Brendan Howlin said: “It is little wonder that the National Gallery of Ireland is one of our most popular tourist destinations. Every year, over 650,000 visitors marvel at the collection which numbers among its 15,000 pieces masterpieces from the major Europeans schools of art and the world’s most comprehensive collection of Irish art. Fáilte Ireland tell us that every 1,000 additional tourists support 15 jobs in that sector. It is therefore essential that we continue to invest in our cultural and historic resources. After all, culture is an asset.”

 Minister Brian Hayes, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, commented:“The Government's significant capital investment in this project reaffirms its commitment to the cultural institutions of the state. This project not alone represents an investment in the protection of the fabric of the historic buildings occupied by the National Gallery of Ireland, will also provide the Gallery with environmental conditions to international gallery standards that befits a modern gallery.

"This project will draw on a range of skills, some highly specialised, during its two-year duration and in so doing, will provide a much needed further boost to employment in the construction sector. I am delighted that my office, the Office of Public Works, has played, and will continue to play, such a pivotal role in this important project.”

Dr Olive Braiden, Chair of the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland: “The Board of the Gallery is delighted to see the commencement of refurbishment works at the National Gallery of Ireland. We look forward to reopening our splendid new galleries in 2016. The Board would like to thank the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Office of Public Works for their extraordinary commitment to the success of the project.” 

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland: “This modernisation and refurbishment project brings essential benefits to the National Gallery and we are delighted to begin works in January 2014. I would like to acknowledge the commitment of the Gallery’s MDP project team and the Gallery’s Board; the design team at Heneghan-Peng and our colleagues at the Office of Public Works, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for their financial contributions and active participation in bringing this scheme to this critical juncture.”

Eamon Booth, Managing Director, John Paul Construction said: “John Paul Construction is delighted to be appointed as main contractor for the extensive refurbishment of the historic core of the National Gallery, the Dargan and Milltown wings. With our history of completing award winning refurbishment and restoration projects on behalf of the OPW, including the Curvilinear Range and the Palm House buildings, we are looking forward to working closely with them and the design team and have no doubt that together, we will successfully deliver this prestigious project. 

“We have assembled an expert team with the specialist skills to ensure that the fabric of these historic buildings of national significance will be upgraded to world class gallery standards and completed on schedule in time for the 1916 centenary.”

When work is completed, the National Gallery of Ireland will be equipped as a world-leading gallery space, meeting the international standards for the exhibition of both its own collections and visiting artworks from other important collections. 

ENDS

 

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