The Douglas Hyde Gallery was founded in 1978 by Trinity College and the Arts Council of Ireland; some years later the organisation became completely independent, although its two main funders remain the same. Housed in the university’s Arts Building, the DHG contains two spaces: the cavernous Gallery 1, which is approached down a staircase, from above, and the more intimate Gallery 2, which was opened in 2001.
Until 1990, when the Irish Museum of Modern Art was established in Dublin, the Douglas Hyde Gallery was the main, if not the only, publicly funded gallery for contemporary art in the Republic of Ireland. Since then the context has changed dramatically, and there are many galleries and venues around the country that have strong visual art programmes. The Douglas Hyde Gallery’s role has changed accordingly, and its activities are broader and less mainstream than before.
Since the opening of Gallery 2 there have been many exhibitions and small shows of outsider art, craft, textiles, and ethnographic objects. We have frequently invited artists who have already shown with us in Gallery 1 to return to participate in a series of Gallery 2 exhibitions called ‘The Paradise’, which has now passed its fortieth installment. We show many films, have occasional musical events (often involving well-known musicians), and from time to time we venture beyond the walls of the Gallery to present exhibitions and projects elsewhere.
The main focus of our activities, however, continues to be exhibitions by significant contemporary artists, most of whom (with the exception of Irish residents) have not held one-person shows in this country before. Our programme is highly considered in the international art world: in recent years we have brought to Ireland exhibitions by Marlene Dumas, Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Gabriel Orozco, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Fischli/Weiss, Louise Bourgeois, and Alice Neel – to mention but a handful of the more celebrated.
The Gallery is also known for its publications, which are sold and distributed worldwide. Exhibition catalogues are usually presented in a consistent house style, and over eighty titles have been produced between 2000 and the present. All of the titles on our bookshop page were published by the Douglas Hyde Gallery during this period.
Image: Rose Wylie, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, March - May 2015