The power of beauty at the National Gallery of Ireland

“BUILD it and they will come” may not always be reliable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs but “rebuild it and they might come” has proven a winning formula for the National Gallery of Ireland. 

Since the gallery reopened after extensive renovations less than two months ago, almost a quarter of a million people have visited the Dublin jewel.

It is, of course, significant that the work of one of the giants of world culture — Dutch master Johannes Vermeer — was chosen as the headline presentation for the months after the gallery re-opened. This may have been inspired programming, but it underlines an eternal truth — beauty has its own power and remains seductive no matter how, or where, or when, it is offered. There must be a lesson in this wonderful success for other institutions, galleries and concert halls, all around the country struggling to attract the number of visitors that guarantee viability and independence.

It may not always be easy to rustle up a few Vermeers to build an audience, but our world is full of beguiling alternatives. Bring them on!

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