The Butler Gallery Collection
The Butler Gallery Permanent Collection is a great source of pride for the Gallery and for the people of Kilkenny. Achieving best practice and Care of the Collection has been our priority over the past number of years. Since 2005 the Collection has been safely housed off-site in climate-controlled storage. We continue our long-term plan of restoration and conservation of works that require attention, and are grateful to the Heritage Council of Ireland for grants received to help us fulfil our dedication to minimising change and maximising the longevity of this important Collection.
We aim to keep this diverse collection fluid, exhibited and enjoyed by the public, and so in addition to our Annual Collection Exhibition at the Butler, works from the Collection are loaned out to several institutions around Kilkenny including St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny Education Centre and Kilkenny Carlow Local Radio. We have developed an active Patron and Benefactor Loan Scheme that allows businesses and individuals to borrow works from the Collection for a year for a small fee. This enables people to enjoy some of our gems in the comfort and privacy of an office or living room. Several works are hanging in boardrooms in Dublin, in the Pembroke Hotel and Langton’s Hotel in Kilkenny, and elsewhere. This scheme assists our not-for-profit organisation in raising much-needed funds. We are grateful to all the participants.
The Collection – by Aidan Dunne
Click here to read The Collection, an essay by Aidan Dunne
Size and Range of the Collection
The Butler Gallery Collection was established in 1942 by the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in Kilkenny, or as it later became known, the Kilkenny Art Gallery Society. The collection has grown from a modest collection of nineteenth century watercolours, many of which were donated by George Pennefeather in 1943. Purchases, gifts, loans and bequests have all combined to make what is now a collection of over four hundred works. The collection has been helped substantially by bodies such as the Contemporary Irish Arts Society and the friends of the National Collections along with a number of generous individuals who have donated many fine works to the collection. The collection is a rich archive to which the inquisitive eye my turn and return. Including loans from the Sir Basil Goulding Collection and private collections, the Butler Gallery Collection is an eclectic catalogue that can be read and appreciated on many levels.
In 1975, the gallery took up its present accommodation in the basement of Kilkenny castle where a major contemporary art gallery has flourished. Exhibitions of critical acclaim mounted over the past forty years include Sean Scully, Antoni Tapies, Bill Woodrow, Sol le Witt, Brian Maguire, Tony O’Malley, Tony Cragg, Petah Coyne, Paul McCarthy, Eve Sussman, Jeanne Silverthorne, Louise Bourgeois, David Sandlin and Barry McGee.
The Kilkenny Art Gallery Society trading as the Butler Gallery owns the Permanent Collection. The Butler Gallery is a model of what enthusiastic commitment can achieve. The collection provides a credible account of the evolution of 20th century art in Ireland, and its exhibitions have put Kilkenny firmly on the artistic map. Most importantly, it provides proof positive that regional organisations have a major part to play not only in terms of their own environment, but in enriching the cultural life of the country as a whole.