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.
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 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 300,000 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 Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which comprises some 4,500 works, has been developed since 1990 through purchase, donations and long-term loans, as well as by the commissioning of new works. The guiding principle behind this process is that the Collection is firmly rooted in the present. The Museum’s acquisitions policy is to concentrate on the work of living artists, but it accepts donations and loans of more historical art objects with a particular emphasis on work from the 1940s onwards. The Museum’s Collection is made up of the Permanent Collection and a number of loan collections which include the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art Collection and the Weltkunst Foundation Collection of British Art from the 1980s and '90s. The Madden Arnholz Collection of some 2,000 old master prints also forms a part of the IMMA Collection.
The permanent Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art comprises some 1,650 works. The collection reflects some of the most exciting trends in Irish and international art with lens-based work by Gilbert and George, Marina Abramovic, Willie Doherty and Paul Seawright, installations by llya and Emilia Kabakov, Rebecca Horn and sculpture by Dorothy Cross, Kathy Prendergast, Juan Mũnoz, Damien Hirst and Stephan Balkenhol; also paintings by Francesco Clemente, Tony O’Malley, Peter Doig, and Peter Halley. Major donations include a wide variety of modern and contemporary art, including paintings by Sean Scully, a large sculpture by Barry Flanagan and a film by Neil Jordan. Recent Heritiage Gifts include Dorothy by Sean Scully and 50 works from the PJ Carroll & Co. Ltd. Art Collection.
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