Part of the Institutional Archive
The National Gallery of Ireland Archives reflect the history of the gallery from before its foundation up to the present day. There are extensive archives of the efforts made to found the gallery, from the Irish Institution which organised art exhibitions to raise awareness of the need for a gallery, and helped to obtain an Act of Parliament in 1854 which allowed for the establishment of a National Gallery in Dublin; and the Dargan Committee which took responsibility for fund-raising for a gallery building. The gallery finally opened in 1864, and there are some letters, accounts and administrative papers from these early years, but much has been lost, especially from the time of the directorship of Sir Walter Armstrong (1892-1914) – he may have taken all his papers with him. However there are 2 very useful copy letter books, kept in the safe, which help to fill in the gaps for the years 1859-71 and 1881-94, as well as a book of newspaper cuttings from that period. From around 1920, the volume of available archives begins to increase, although detailed listing has only been done as far as 1926. Of note are an embezzlement scandal involving the Registrar, Killingly, in 1872, the appointment of Hugh Lane as director in 1914, and the aftermath of his drowning in the sinking the Lusitania in 1915, regarding his bequest of paintings and much of his estate to the NGI and to the Dublin Municipal Gallery, now known as the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art. Another extensive gift of pictures, furniture, books and silverware from the Countess of Milltown in 1902 created much correspondence on whether to accept all the items and on the need for a new extension to the gallery to house the pictures. The appointment and dismissal of various directors created interesting correspondence, and there are letters to and from two literary figures who worked as Registrars in the gallery, James Stephens and Brinsley MacNamara. Administrative functions for the day to day running of the gallery are well represented, and there are many archives concerned with the pictures themselves, from acquisitions, loans, exhibitions, and material collected on particular works of art and particular artists, including a collection of newspaper cuttings from Irish papers from the 1960s to the 1990s. There are also archives for various societies which tried to promote art and culture in Ireland, including the Arts Council, the Haverty Trust and the Young Irish Artists’ Foundation. There is also a collection of photographs of the paintings and other works of art held by the gallery, and a variety of other photographs, at present unsorted. The gallery minute books, are kept in the safe. They comprise a valuable research resource, stretching from the establishment of the gallery up to the 1980s, recording important decisions of the board. Some have indexes, others do not. There are also director’s reports from most years, as well as a collection of bye-laws and Acts of Parliament which have relevance for the gallery.
National Gallery of Ireland
|Creator||National Gallery of Ireland|