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Irish Museum of Modern Art

IMMA

Founded  1991
Location Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31
Website imma.ie

IMMA is Ireland’s National Cultural Institution for Modern and Contemporary Art. Their programme comprises exhibitions, commissions and projects by leading Irish and international artists, as well as a rich engagement and learning programme which together provides audiences of all ages the opportunity to connect with contemporary art and unlock their creativity.

IMMA is home to the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, started in 1990 and now numbering over 3,500 artworks by Irish and international artists. They make this national resource available through exhibitions at IMMA and other venues nationally and internationally, engagement and learning programmes and digital resources.

They are situated at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.1

History

RHK Building & Site

The Irish Museum of Modern Art is housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the finest 17th-century building in Ireland, and commonly known as the ‘RHK’. The Royal Hospital was founded in 1684 by James Butler, Duke of Ormonde and Viceroy to Charles II, as a home for retired soldiers and continued in that use for almost 250 years. Construction commenced in 1680 by royal command.

The RHK is the oldest classical building in Ireland and was based on Les Invalides in Paris, with a formal facade and a large elegant courtyard. Its sister site, the Royal Hospital Chelsea was completed two years later and also contains many similarities in style. When it was built, the hospital housed just 20 people although it was designed for 400. At times throughout history it housed up to 2,500 people. The beautiful gardens here were originally used for medicinal purposes but over time they became the private gardens of the Master of the RHK who was in charge of the British Army in Ireland at that time.

In 1922 the RHK was handed over to the Irish Free State and five years later the last pensioner was moved to Chelsea. The site served as Garda Headquarters from 1930 to 1950 but fell into disrepair until 1980, when Taoiseach Charles Haughey approved plans to renovate the site at a cost of IR£3 million. It took four years to complete the works – which is as long as it took to originally build the RHK three centuries earlier.

From 1984-1990 a number of major cultural events and exhibitions took place on site, and in May 1991 the Royal Hospital Kilmainham was opened as the Irish Museum of Modern Art; Ireland’s first Contemporary Art Museum.2

The David Kronn Collection

This is the collection of photography amassed by Dr David Kronn, an Irish-born paediatrician with a specialty in medical genetics, who lives and works in New York. Dr Kronn has built an extraordinary photography collection over the past twenty years, which is a promised gift to the Irish Museum of Modern Art to be enjoyed by the Irish public into the future. The overall donation will substantially increase IMMA’s photographic holdings and provide an historical, contextual and expanding framework essential for the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary photography.

Dr Kronn had an early interest in photography, learning to use a darkroom at his school camera club. He remained an active photographer while he was studying medicine at Trinity College Dublin and when his medical training took him to New York, this interest in photography developed into a passion for collecting pictures. Dr Kronn has shaped a collection rich in content, genre and themes that encourages many readings. Placing works in dialogue with one another, the exhibition provides an insight into how a collection is formed and how it can be configured and reconfigured to tell different stories. The collection itself is autobiographical, a portrait over time of Dr Kronn’s thinking and instincts and ranges in content from 19th-century Daguerreotypes to works by icons of modern photography as well as works by award-winning contemporary photographers. 3

Exhibitions

Selected exhibitions

  • 2008, 5 Feb – 27 Apr, An Experience of Amusing Chemistry: Photographs 1990 – 1980, McDermott & McGough
  • 2001, Northern Light, Artists from the David Kronn Collection: Abbas, Bill Armstrong, Bruno Barbey, Ian Berry, Gilles Caron, David Farrell, John Hinde, Michael Kenna, Eric Luke, Tony O’Shea, Gilles Peress, Ursula Schulz-Dornburg, Paul Seawright, Arthur Siegel, Rosalind Solomon, Chris Steele Perkins, Amelia Stein, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Donovan Wylie. 28 Oct 2020 to 10 Oct 2021
  1. “About” IMMA https://imma.ie/about/overview/
  2. “About” IMMA https://imma.ie/about/overview/
  3. https://www.butlergallery.ie/whats-on/portraits-from-the-david-kronn-collection