New Museum Opens in Kilkenny
New Museum Opens in Kilkenny
A new art museum and cultural heritage site will open to the public in Kilkenny today (Thursday, 06.08.2020 ). Butler Gallery, previously located at Kilkenny Castle, has moved to Evans’ Home, on John’s Quay, in the centre of Kilkenny City. The move is part of a €6.3 million redevelopment project of the historic site and represents a significant new tourist offering for Ireland’s Southeast. The new museum, which expects to attract 76,000 visitors per annum, was officially launched by Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, at a ceremony this morning.
The 10,000 sq ft building contains seven collection galleries which will be used to display the Butler Gallery Collection of 20th-century Irish art. In addition, there is a large exhibition space that will feature temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. The museum sits on the monastic site of St. John’s Priory and is surrounded by walled gardens which have been repurposed to accommodate an outdoor sculpture garden, a children’s garden, a wildflower garden and an exposition of the site's archaeology. A café with outdoor seating provides views over the grounds.
The project has been two years in construction and was developed by McCullough Mulvin Architects. Their previous projects include Printing House Square, Trinity College and St. Mary’s Medieval Mile Museum in Kilkenny.
Speaking this morning (06.08.2020) at the launch ceremony Malcolm Noonan T.D., Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, remarked:
“As a proud Kilkenny native, I am deeply honoured to have formally opened the new home of the Butler Gallery. Anna O’Sullivan, her team and the gallery’s board have realised a vision of collaborative and inclusive arts through the careful conservation and intervention on this fine space, to ensure that the Butler Gallery will continue to flourish in the heart of Kilkenny. This space will shine bright at a time when light and hope are needed.”
Anna O’Sullivan, Butler Gallery Director, believes that the new facility represents one of the finest exhibition spaces in Ireland:
“The historic site at Evans’ home has been re-imagined, with world-class facilities, as a space for contemporary art and learning. This is one of the most significant additions to Ireland’s cultural and heritage portfolio of the past decade. Apart from being a major free tourist attraction, for Ireland’s Southeast, the museum will become an important cultural hub for the people of Kilkenny.”
The inaugural temporary exhibition in the main gallery is by contemporary photographer Amelia Stein. The exhibition titled “The Bloods” is in association with the Kilkenny Arts Festival and features a series of 58 black and white portraits documenting members of the Irish defence forces. Also on display are rarely seen works by artists Paul Henry, Louis le Brocquy, Mainie Jellett and Mary Swanzy. A wing of the new museum is dedicated to the work of renowned Kilkenny artists Tony and Jane O’Malley.
The project has been jointly funded by Kilkenny County Council, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and Fáilte Ireland. Evans' Home was a 19th Century almshouse established in trust by philanthropist Joseph Evans in 1816 for the purpose of providing a home for out-of-work domestic servants. Commenting on the restoration work Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Andrew McGuinness remarked:
“I am extremely proud of the standard of restoration projects that are provided in Kilkenny to visitors interested in understanding Kilkenny’s rich medieval history. The elected members of Kilkenny County Council can take additional pride in having supported and part-funded this project and to welcome this new addition to Ireland’s Medieval Mile.”
Speaking at the launch of the new facility Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Product Development, remarked:
“Innovation and investment are critical as the tourism industry recovers and rebuilds. As the National Tourism Development Authority, we invest in attractions that bring Ireland’s visual arts and contemporary culture to life in a way that is appealing to tourists. Butler’s Gallery exemplifies innovation and Fáilte Ireland is delighted to play its part in such a significant investment. By relocating the Gallery we believe this project will help spread the benefits of tourism further across the city, boosting business in Kilkenny and across Ireland’s Ancient East.”
Butler Gallery at Evans’ Home, John’s Quay, Kilkenny. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10.00–17.00, Thursday Late Night 10.00–20.00, Sunday 11.00–17.00 Monday closed (except Bank Holidays when Sunday hours apply). FREE entry.
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Notes to editor:
Background to Project
Evans' Home was a 19th Century almshouse established in trust by philanthropist Joseph Evans in 1816 for the purpose of providing a home for out-of-work domestic servants. It was designed by the Kilkenny Architect William Robertson and built at a cost of £5,000 on the former site of a military barracks. Evans’ Home came into the ownership of Kilkenny County Council in 1997. An agreement was reached in 2009 to develop the site as the new Butler Gallery, which had been located at Kilkenny Castle since 1976. The funds for this development has been generously committed by Kilkenny County Council (c. €2.5m), the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (€2m) and Fáilte Ireland (€1.135m).’ The museum is a not-for-profit organisation with charitable status and is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland. Butler Gallery seeks to raise a further €150,000 annually through private fundraising efforts to ensure the sustainability of the Gallery and invites the business community and individuals to become involved in this exciting new attraction which expects to see up to 76,000 visitors per annum.
About Butler Gallery
Butler Gallery was established in 1943 by George Pennefather, as the Kilkenny Art Gallery Society. Butler Gallery is a contemporary art gallery committed to exhibiting the work of Irish artists and to bring the work of major international artists to Kilkenny. Butler Gallery’s collection of Irish and international art dates from the 1800s and includes rarely seen works by Paul Henry, Louis le Brocquy, Mainie Jellett and Mary Swanzy. The museum is named after Susan Margaret Butler, popularly known as Peggy. Butler was the Monaghan born sister of the theatre director Tyrone Guthrie and the driving force behind the management of the Kilkenny Art Gallery Society.
About O’Malley Collection
The Butler Gallery is honoured to have been entrusted to caretake the artworks of Irish artist Tony O’Malley, donated to us by his wife Jane O’Malley upon our move to Evans’ Home. In addition to her own life as an artist, Jane O’Malley has tirelessly been preserving the legacy of the work of her late husband Tony O’Malley. Butler Gallery honours her work and dedicates this wing to the work of both artists.
About Amelia Stein Exhibition
The inaugural temporary exhibition in the Main Gallery is by contemporary photographer Amelia Stein. The exhibition titled “The Bloods” is a series of 58 black and white portraits documenting members of the Irish Defence Forces based at James Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny. This body of work, which began in 2015, utilises the handball alley on the grounds of the barracks as a make-shift photography studio. This is an apt opening exhibition given one of the former uses of the building in the 17th century was as a barracks. From the Sergeant Major to new recruits, chefs and machine gun operators, Stein's images give a unique insight into the working life and culture of the Irish Defence Forces.