The National Gallery of Ireland will have its most extensive refurbishment, since it first opened in 1864, carried out in time for the 1916 centenary, according to the Minister for Public Expenditure, Brendan Howlin.
With a budget which will be in excess of €20 million an estimated 300 construction and specialist jobs will be created during the multi-million refurbishment.
The funding will be split 80:20 between the State and the National Gallery of Ireland (NGI), which has its own resources from philanthropic funding.
The tendering process will start presently and it is hoped to begin refurbishment work during the summer with a view to having all the work completed by 2015.
Today’s announcement will mean:
- A comprehensive refurbishment of the historic core of the National Gallery – the Dargan and Milltown wings
- The installation of 21st century climate, heating, fire suppression, electrical, lighting and security systems
- The reopening of Victorian features and spaces within the building previously unseen by the public
- The conversion of spaces between the wings for public use and as exhibition spaces to include the provision of a sculpture court
- The protection and preservation of the building itself
When work is completed, the National Gallery of Ireland will be equipped as a world-leading gallery space, meeting the international standards for the exhibition of both its own collections and visiting artworks from other important collections.
The project is expected to generate approximately 300 full time construction and specialist jobs. In the region of €20 million will be spent on the project between 2013 and 2015.
Speaking about the announcement, CIF Director General Tom Parlon said, “We are delighted that the Government has moved forward with these plans as it will provide a valuable source of construction work over the next few years. The sector has experienced six successive years of decline so with a new year ahead this is exactly the type of news that our industry needed.
“At a time when construction employment has dropped to such a low level, public spending initiatives like this will boost confidence in the sector and provide a much needed source of employment. We have been pressing the Government to take practical steps to improve construction employment and this is the type of action that falls into that category.
“This builds on other positive indicators which suggest the construction industry may have more reasons for optimism during 2013. We have also witnessed a commitment by the banks to increase mortgage lending this year and there has been the continued success in attracting construction activity through foreign direct investment by the IDA. 2013 should also see the rollout of the Irish Water programme and we anticipate some of the projects under the National Stimulus Plan will move to the construction phase later in the year.
“These are signals of hope for our industry but the Government must continue to source more projects such as the National Gallery project if we are to ensure a sustained construction recovery,” Mr. Parlon concluded.