Cork's Crawford Art Gallery is to get €3.3 million in capital funding from the Government, paving the way for the restoration of the buildings which house the gallery and allowing for the expansion of its collection.
The collection consists of more than 3,000 objects, including well-known and much-loved works by Irish artists James Barry, Harry Clarke, Mainie Jellett, Seán Keating, Daniel Maclise, Norah McGuinness, Edith Somerville, Mary Swanzy, and Jack B Yeats, as well as contemporary artists Gerard Byrne, Maud Cotter, Dorothy Cross, Eilis O'Connell, and Hughie O'Donoghue.
The approval of funding of €3.32m will enable Crawford to move to the next phase of procurement for the planned redevelopment of the Gallery under Project Ireland 2040.
Detailed design and planning for the large-scale capital works for the site on Emmet Place in Cork city centre can now proceed.
Restoration and redevelopment is essential to ensure Crawford Art Gallery can meet local, national and international visitors' diverse needs into the future and ensure the best possible experience for audiences and communities, Crawford Art Gallery chair Rose McHugh said.
"The project will ensure these unique buildings of great heritage interest will be restored and enhanced for future generations. Furthermore, it allows for the collection to be expanded and more accessible," she said.
She welcomed the approval of funding as coming at a "critical and exciting time" for the gallery, and said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure Crawford is enhanced and sustained into the future.
The goal of the capital project is to establish accommodation for the gallery which is fit for purpose, reflects its national, cultural and historical status and importance and also ensures it can operate and be sustained as a cultural organisation of significance to support artistic participation, sharing and care of the collection.
Crawford Art Gallery is a national cultural institution, dedicated to contemporary and historic visual art, located in a significant heritage building in the heart of Cork city. Home to a collection of national importance, it tells a story of Cork and Ireland over the last three centuries. It also offers a programme of temporary exhibitions.
Originally built in 1724 as the city's Custom House, the gallery is home to the famous Canova Casts, gifted to Cork two centuries ago.
Crawford director Mary McCarthy described the grant approval as a giant step forward.
"We can now move forward to the detailed design phase. This supports us meeting our project timeline," she said.
The overall planned investment in Crawford will enhance, integrate and protect the buildings on site, increase access to exhibitions and collection, futureproof and safeguard the collection with new storage facilities, while contributing to environmental sustainability, Ms McCarthy said.
"Investment will ensure Crawford Art Gallery, a national cultural institution, is a centre of excellence for generations to come," she added.
Planning permission will now be sought and tender documents prepared.
Crawford Art Gallery is open seven days a week and is free to enter.
It attracts more than a quarter of a million visitors annually.