A beacon of art and culture since it first opened its doors to the Irish public in 1864, the National Gallery of Ireland fully reopened on June 15 following an extensive six-year period of meticulous refurbishment and modernisation.

Its historic wings, Dargan and Milltown, have been beautifully transformed with a new presentation of the gallery’s permanent collection treasures which include works by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Goya, Monet and Picasso, while the prestigious Irish art collection featuring the likes of Daniel Maclise, Roderic O’Conor, John Lavery, William Orpen, Seán Keating, Evie Hone, Norah McGuinness, Jack B Yeats and Louis le Brocquy has also been given pride of place.

The highly-anticipated Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry, will be the newly-refurbished gallery’s first exhibition, opened Saturday, June 17.

Central to the multi-million euro project has been the construction of a state-of-the-art underground energy centre housing vital services for the entire gallery. Original 19th-century architectural features and spaces are now revealed and majestic windows open onto a spacious light-filled courtyard created by Heneghan Peng Architects. This new courtyard is also the site for a dramatic sculpture, Magnus Modus, by Joseph Walsh.

The six-year refurbishment also provided an opportunity to extensively survey, research and conserve more than 450 works from the gallery’s permanent collection, including Daniel Maclise’s arresting 1854 work The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife.

With 2017 a landmark year for the National Gallery of Ireland, a comprehensive calendar of exhibitions are taking place, including: 

  • Margaret Clarke (1864-1961): An Independent Spirit (until 20 Aug 2017)

  • Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (17 June - 17 Sept 2017)

  • Käthe Kollwitz: Life, Death and War (6 Sept - 10 Dec 2017)

  • Frederic William Burton (23 Oct 2017 - 14 Jan 2018)

  • Aftermath: The War Landscapes of William Orpen (11 Nov 2017 - 11 Feb 2018)

With over 16,300 works of art, more that 650 of which are now on display, the Irish public are set to benefit from this National Cultural Institution’s impressive modernisation. And with entry to the permanent collection always free of charge and the gallery itself open 361 days a year, there’s never been a better time to visit.