Department of Finance Internal Memo Proposes Merger of Ireland’s Main National Galleries

August 6, 2008

The Department of Finance recently suggested Ireland’s three main art galleries could be merged into one as part of the Government plan to “rationalise” Government services.

Correspondence from the Department of Arts, as seen by The Irish Times , revealed that the possibility of the merger of the National Gallery, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma) and the Crawford Gallery in Cork was considered. The proposal arose as part of a “brainstorming exercise” within the Department of Finance which included the galleries in a list of agencies that might be suitable to be merged or subsumed into others.

The suggestion has been confirmed by a spokesman from the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism who stated that the issue has not yet been the subject of serious discussion. Senior officials have immediately reassurred the galleries that Finance’s suggestion had yet to be examined in detail.

Crawford Gallery Director Peter Murray said pooling certain functions could be beneficial. However, he said he could see no economic advantage or savings from merging the three galleries into one entity.

“I do not think there would be any sensible need to coalesce the three major cultural institutions into one unit. I could not see that working very well. Would the National Gallery have authority over the Crawford or vice versa?

“Members of the board are not paid for their participation. These are people who have given their time . . . There would not be any economic saving by [the galleries] coalescing.” Mr Murray said it was not at the board level but in other areas where savings could be achieved.

Murray stated that there should be greater integration of human resources and legal services, as well as the galleries using their combined bargaining power when advertising or when launching campaigns.

The Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) Enrique Juncosa is away at present. A spokeswomen said that it was aware that the possible amalgamation of the three galleries had been raised. “Imma has been given to understand that no decisions whatsoever have been taken with regard to this suggestion. As with all other State-funded agencies, the museum would obviously have to be prepared to consider any proposal that would be brought forward as a result of Government policy.” The gallery has not  received any communication about this matter from the department.


Harry McGee, Political Staff, Irish Times –