Some €29m will be spent on the redevelopment of the "wonderful, peaceful oasis" that is the 200-year-old Crawford Art Gallery in Cork City over the next four years, it has been confirmed.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tourism and Culture Minister Catherine Martin were on hand in Cork today to officially announce the design consultants for the redevelopment of the Crawford, which saw 260,000 annual visitors before the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
The collection in the Crawford has more than 3,000 works, ranging from 18th-century Irish and European painting and sculpture through to contemporary video installations.
The building, parts of which date back to the early 18th century, needs significant enhancement "to meet the evolving demands of a dynamic national cultural institution", it said.
🎉 Biggest News Day!! 🎉— Crawford Art Gallery (@CrawfordArtGall) July 23, 2021
Taoiseach @MichealMartinTD and Minister @cathmartingreen today announced that the contract for the design for our redevelopment has been awarded to @graftonarchs!
More details about #TransformingCrawford here: https://t.co/Waja1ID64r #Ireland2040 pic.twitter.com/t9rd06eysY
The Council of National Cultural Institutions is a statutory body established under the Heritage Fund Act 2001, and members include the National Archives, National Library of Ireland, National Museum of Ireland, National Gallery of Ireland, and the Heritage Council.
The Government had earmarked €460m in national cultural institutions as part of the Project Ireland 2040 capital investment project, which had an overall price tag of €116bn before the pandemic.
Mr Martin said the Crawford had "punched way above its weight for many years" and was the only national cultural institution to be located in its entirety outside of Dublin.
The "wonderful, peaceful oasis" is "essentially Cork", Mr Martin said, adding that the gallery personified the modern transformation of Cork and the time had come for its redevelopment.
Ms Martin approved the business plan for the Crawford last September, greenlighting the €29m investment.
Grafton Architects was announced as the principal design consultants following a two-stage procurement process, and the firm will be responsible for providing all construction-related technical advice and design services to the Crawford Art Gallery and the OPW.
"This has been a very challenging time for artists and I was very pleased to put in place last year an art acquisition fund, which resulted in the purchase of 422 artworks by 70 artists working in Ireland for the national collection," she said.
"This scheme has been a huge success and provided vital support to our artists while at the same time enhancing the national collection. It is inspirational to see some of the works purchased under the scheme on display here today."
Crawford Art Gallery chairwoman Rose McHugh said the next phase of development of the facility is "a once-in-a-century opportunity to enhance the architectural and artistic life of our city and region".