€22m Crawford Art Gallery revamp to begin work within two years

€22m Crawford Art Gallery revamp to begin work within two years

Mary McCarthy, incoming director of The Crawford Art Gallery. The building is due to get a major refurbishment. Picture: Denis Minihane

THE Crawford Art Gallery on Emmet Place is already preparing for major refurbishments and a significant extension project following the revelation that it is set for a major €22m boost.

The Crawford is to benefit from the National Development Plan funding, announced last week, with refurbishments planned and an extension process expected to begin within 2 years.

“It’s a major coup which we were delighted to get and we’ll be sure to put to great use,” said Mary McCarthy, the newly appointed director of the Gallery, who took up the position last week.

“It’s certainly been an interesting first week,” she laughed”

The grant will first go towards upgrading storage and administration spaces, according to Ms McCarthy who said restoring the current gallery is crucial.

“It’s a historic building, loved in Cork, so it’s important we take care of the infrastructure,” she said.

The Crawford Art Gallery, which sees between 800 and 1,000 visitors almost every Saturday, is a National Cultural Institution and regional art museum for Munster, dedicated to the visual arts, both historic and contemporary. The gallery’s permanent collection comprises almost 4,000 works, ranging from eighteenth-century Irish and European painting and sculpture, through to contemporary video installations.

At the heart of the collection is a collection of Greek and Roman sculpture casts, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican Museum in Rome. Parts of The Crawford Gallery building date back to the early eighteenth century.

Planning for the future extension has already gotten underway, according to Ms McCarthy, who described the vision for the future as an “ambitious project.”

“The gallery needs more space in terms of storage and access for works, “ she said.

“It’s a very old building so access for new works can be difficult at times and we’re hoping to make this process easier. “We’d also like to introduce more studio spaces to bring back the tradition of artists working in the gallery,” she added.

“Also, there are plans for more social areas and education spaces where people can learn more and explore the art on display.

“Planning has already begun for this extension, though it’s a few years away yet. It was important to get the commitment from government that we would get this money.”

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