Irish Museum of Modern Art
The Irish Museum of Modern Art was established by the Government of Ireland in 1990 as Ireland's first national institution for the presentation and collection of modern and contemporary art. The Museum was officially opened on 25 May 1991 by the, then Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Charles J Haughey. Since its opening, the Museum has rapidly established itself as a significant and dynamic presence in the Irish and international arts arena. It is widely admired by its peers throughout the world for the range and relevance of its exhibitions, for its innovative use of its growing Collection, for its award-winning education and community programme, and for its visitor-centred ethos and facilities. IMMA has proved to be a valuable and popular addition to the country's cultural infrastructure, attracting more than 400,000 Irish and overseas visitors from diverse social backgrounds each year, both to the Museum itself and to events organised throughout Ireland by our National Programme.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art is housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the finest 17th-century building in Ireland. The Royal Hospital was founded in 1684 by James Butler, Duke of Ormonde and Viceroy to Charles II, as a home for retired soldiers and continued in that use for almost 250 years. The style is based on Les Invalides in Paris with a formal facade and a large elegant courtyard. The Royal Hospital in Chelsea was completed two years later and also contains many similarities in style. The Royal Hospital Kilmainham was restored by the Government in 1984 and opened as the Irish Museum of Modern Art in May 1991.
IIMMA is Ireland's leading national institution for the collection and presentation of modern and contemporary art. The Museum presents a wide variety of art in a dynamic programme of exhibitions, which regularly includes bodies of work from its own Collection and its award-winning Education and Community Department. It also creates more widespread access to art and artists through its National and Artists' Residency Programmes.
The Museum's mission is to foster within society an awareness, understanding and involvement in the visual arts through policies and programmes which are excellent, innovative and inclusive. IMMA has won admiration, at home and abroad, for the range and vibrancy of its temporary exhibitions, for the strategic expansion and innovative use of its Collection and for its award-winning access programmes.
In terms of making its Collection available to those to whom it belongs–the people of Ireland–IMMA has led the way as a truly national institution, organising exhibitions and associated access programmes with up to 12 centres around Ireland, North and South, via its unique National Programme, each year.
Exhibitions: Since 1991, the Museum has presented some 240 separate exhibitions and now regularly programmes more than 15 different exhibitions each year, one of the busiest exhibition schedules in Europe. IMMA's temporary exhibitions programme has included such defining figures in the history of modern art as; Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Joan Mir—, Joseph Beuys, Alexander Calder and Georgia O'Keeffe, as well as leading contemporary artists such as Lucian Freud, Alex Katz, Richard Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin and Antony Gormley. The work of cutting-edge younger-generation artists is also regularly represented in exhibitions by; Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Demand, Carlos Garaicoa, Philippe Parreno, Thomas Scheibitz and many others.
Exhibitions by leading Irish artists form a major part of IMMA's programme. These have included large-scale shows by Louis le Brocquy, Tony O'Malley, Michael Craig-Martin, Anne Madden, Dorothy Cross and Willie Doherty, while the work of less-well-known Irish artists is also presented on a regular basis. Group exhibitions form another important strand and have included the most extensive showing in Ireland of contemporary art from both China and Latin-America and 250 works on paper by 80 leading international artists from an important private collection.
Collection: In recent years, IMMA has significantly extended the scale and scope of its Collection, through a carefully-crafted strategy of identifying and working actively to fill gaps in its existing holding of works. In 2008 alone, IMMA acquired 69 new works through purchase and donation, as Heritage Gifts or as long-term loans. Major acquisitions in recent years include: six paintings by the celebrated Irish painter Jack B Yeats; a complete set of the 20 magnificent T‡in Tapestries by Louis le Brocquy; three notable film works by leading Irish artist James Coleman; a sculpture by the iconic French-born artist Louise Bourgeois, donated by the artist; 52 works from the important PJ Carroll Collection of Irish art from the 1960s and '70s; and 25 major works by leading Irish artists from the 1940s, '50s and '60s from the prestigious Bank of Ireland Collection, the second donation from the bank in ten years.
Since its foundation IMMA has built an outstanding reputation for the manner in which it has promoted widespread public access to its work, and is regarded as providing a model of good practice by many leading authorities in the field, both Irish and international. Its programmes in the early years with the local community, such as the St Michael's Parish Active Retirement Group, the Family Resource Centre, St Michael's Estate, Inchicore, and youths from Rialto, Drimnagh and Inchicore, had an immeasurable impact on the lives of hundreds of individuals and their families.
IMMA has a range of resources to support its programmes. The Response Room and the Process Room provide opportunities for reflection and response to the Museum's exhibitions and programmes. There are also several studios available for workshops. The Mediator Team, based in the galleries, lead gallery tours and are available to discuss work in the galleries. They also provide input into the Education and Community Programmes and the National Programme.
The Community Programme aims to develop opportunities for people to engage with contemporary visual arts, both as an audience and as practitioners. The Museum provides a range of options, including guided tours, workshops, talks, discussions and studio visits, all of which can be tailored to meet the needs of a particular group.
The programme is structured as an inquiry-based experience, providing a range of opportunities for people to look at artwork, meet the artists and make art in response to those experiences. Participants are invited to view and discuss the artworks on exhibition and meet artists to discuss the conceptual basis of their work. In the workshop sessions, they can also explore art materials, tools, techniques, values, interests, experiences and their own ideas. Each element provides a different perspective from which to view and engage with artworks and the context in which artworks are made.
Since 2003, the Museum has put in place carefully-tailored access programmes alongside its National Programme exhibitions in each of its 12 locations each year, ranging from an artist-in-residence project in an older peopleÕs home to a series of workshops for school children based around environmental issues.
The Artists' Residency Programme (ARP) provides opportunities for artists to research and develop their practice. It supports both emerging and established artists, working in any medium by application or invitation and is open to Irish and international artists.
IMMA's Education and Community Department works with a number of artists to implement its access programmes and, to date, IMMA has invited artists to form a panel for a two-year period. Artists facilitate a range of gallery and studio-based programmes and projects, such as workshops, talks and events to engage the public with contemporary art. IMMA also encourages artists to devise and test out their own ideas in relation to public access, by providing a forum for discussion and experimentation.
Research: The Education and Community Department has initiated and participated in a range of projects and research to promote access to modern and contemporary art. Most projects are medium to long-term action-research projects intended to inform IMMA's own policy development and practice and cultural policy development in general.
Up to 2,000 primary school children visit the Museum each year for specially-designed programmes linked to its exhibitions. Further projects, many supported by the Department of Education and Science, have helped to spearhead special initiatives to enable children from schools designated as disadvantaged to access programmes at IMMA.
During the academic year, IMMA invites teachers and tutors from pre-primary, primary, secondary and third-level schools and colleges to bring their student groups to IMMA any time during opening hours. Teachers and tutors can also book a specialised tour and/or gallery talk and arrange for their student group to meet resident artists on the Artists' Residency Programme.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art is also working with Amnesty International Ireland on a youth focused art and human rights education project. A new arts resource for teachers has been developed and is currently available from Amnesty. Four artworks from IMMA's collection are featured in Chapter Seven.
On the occasion of each major exhibition, the Museum publishes a full-colour catalogue, monograph or artist's book on the show or, in the case of visiting exhibitions, makes available the publication that comes with that exhibition. All IMMA's publications, including exhibition catalogues, IMMA collection books, and its magazine Boulevard Magenta, can be purchased in the IMMA Museum shop or on the Museum's website, www.imma.ie.