Planning has been granted for a multi-million euro regeneration of the historic Crawford Art Gallery in the heart of Cork City, which includes a soaring new ‘sky gallery’ tower.
Pending an appeal, the €29m investment in the city’s beloved institution will increase gallery space by 45% and will see the construction of a striking six-storey tower behind the oldest part of the 300-year-old building, with a top-floor glazed gallery space providing stunning views across the city.
The tower will be the tallest structure in Cork’s historic city core.
Culture and Arts Minister Catherine Martin, whose department is funding the ambitious project, welcomed the decision by Cork City Council planners.
“The announcement is wonderful news for the Crawford Gallery, for the people of Cork, and for art lovers across Ireland,” she said.
“With this design, Grafton Architects, in collaboration with gallery staff and a dedicated design team, have re-imagined this beloved institution, designing a revitalised gallery which is sympathetic to the building’s historic structure while also delivering much-needed additional exhibition and learning spaces.
“The Crawford is just one of the national cultural institutions earmarked to receive funding for redevelopment under the National Development Plan.
“The grant of planning permission is an important milestone in the programme and it sets the bar high for the projects to come.”
The gallery revamp has been designed by an interdisciplinary design team, led by award-winning Grafton Architects, and is being delivered by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Crawford Art Gallery.
It has been designed to expand and modernise the gallery in line with international museum standards and to provide new exhibition spaces and a ‘learn and explore’ facility to engage new audiences.
The redevelopment will also address longstanding challenges with the fabric of the 1720s-built building, providing fit-for-purpose storage spaces for its National Collection pieces and significantly enhancing the sustainability of the building.
The project will also create a new gallery entrance onto Emmett Place, opening Crawford onto a new plaza.
The gallery will remain open to visitors until autumn 2024 when it will close for up to two years to facilitate the redevelopment.
OPW minister Patrick O’Donovan said the gallery project will enhance the visual presence of the gallery collections, while preserving the historic building and providing a vibrant new space for art and the public to meet in the heart of the city.
Crawford Art Gallery chairwoman Rose McHugh thanked everyone involved in the project to date and said it is an exciting time for the gallery.
“This ambitious and well-considered plan