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Founded  1997
Location The Clock Building, National College of Art & Design,100 Thomas Street,Dublin 8,Ireland

The National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) is a public research resource dedicated to the documentation of 20th and 21st century Irish visual art and design.

NIVAL collects, stores and makes accessible for research an unparalleled collection of documentation about Irish art in all media.  NIVAL’s collection policy includes Irish visual art from the whole island as well as Irish art abroad and non-Irish artists working in Ireland.   Information is acquired on artists, designers, galleries, arts organisations and institutions, critics and other related subjects.  The collection contains documentary material in all formats including books, catalogues, videos, slides, artists’ papers and ephemera in print and digital format.1


The National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) was formally established in 1997 with the aim of documenting 20th and 21st century Irish art and design and providing public access to the collection to enhance knowledge and facilitate research.  The Library is designed to foster interest in Irish visual culture and promote Irish art and design across a broad range of constituencies.

NIVAL is a unique research facility wherein every aspect of the visual arts in Ireland from 1900 to the present day has been documented.  The library holds monographs, art and design journals, exhibition catalogues, price lists, brochures, press releases and newspaper reviews.  Artist’s papers, institutional records, scholarly research papers and material culture collections are also held. Much of the material, amassed over the last thirty years, is unavailable elsewhere.

NIVAL serves a wide range of researchers including authors of books and articles, creative practitioners, curators, scholars and students, as well as the general public interested in current, historical or biographical information on the visual arts in Ireland.  NIVAL aims to benefit artists by providing a secure and permanent place for the deposit of visual and textual information related to their work. 2

The development of the NIVAL collection began at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) in the 1970’s in response to a significant demand for documentary resources for the study of Irish visual art.  The Arts Council Plan of 1995 – 1997 signalled the need for such a national resource stating, ‘Council will explore with the National College of Art and Design, the National Library, IMMA and the National Gallery of Ireland, the provision of a centrally located Irish visual art library, containing all existing books, catalogues, slides and videos of contemporary Irish art.’

Following discussions it was agreed that the pre-existing collection at NCAD should be the genesis for a center for the documentation of the Irish visual arts.  Important collections of material were added to the NCAD collection from the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Arts Council.

In 1997, NIVAL was formally established as a partnership project between the National College of Art and Design and the Arts Council.  Since then, the collection of material has grown exponentially and has developed into a research resource of national importance.3

External links & References

  1. “About us” NIVAL 
  2. “About us” NIVAL 
  3. “About us” NIVAL