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IMMA’s 30th birthday provides a special moment to look at the huge achievements and ambitions set out in 1991, but also to imagine how this national institution can continue to experiment, connect and transform into the future.

IMMA’s history is explored in a vibrant wall graphic by Niall Sweeney that maps the museums recent history, reminding us of the great shifts in society over the last 30 years. These events are set against a selection of equally notable transformations in the international art landscape as artists and institutions globalised and mobilised artistic production and expanded their audiences in the 21st Century.

Also on view are two significant, yet intimate presentations drawn from the IMMA Collection that tell our story. The restaging of the pivotal installation of Richard Long and Paul Henry shown as part of IMMA’s inaugural exhibition Inheritance and Transformation in 1991 and two new works by Anne Tallentire, These Aggregations (2010) and Setting Out 2 (2020), recently acquired by the museum which reflect the IMMA Collection today.

Richard Long’s work Kilkenny Limestone (1991), is shown alongside Paul Henry’s Lake and Blue Mountains of Connemara, signifying the growth and richness of the Museum’s Collection, as the original work shown in 1991 Turf Stack in the Bog (1927) was from the University of Limerick’s Collection.

As we mark our 30th birthday, this seminal moment forms the beginning of our forthcoming series of exhibitions, The Narrow Gate of the Here-and –Now, IMMA: 30 years of the Global Contemporary, a museum-wide exhibition showcasing the IMMA Collection and the history of the Museum since 1991. Opening in four phases throughout 2021, each new chapter will explore specific themes within IMMA’s 30-year history.

A series of digital screens will also highlight and present various stands of our programming throughout the summer.

Inheritance and Transformation, 1991

An installation of work by Paul Henry (1877-1958), Turf Stack in the Bog (1927), and Richard Long’s (b. 1945) Kilkenny Limestone (1991) formed part of the opening exhibition of IMMA in 1991 entitled Inheritance and Transformation. These were the first works that visitors encountered, and embodied a curatorial statement from the first Director, Declan McGonagle, signalling his vision for IMMA.

McGonagle said:

“This juxtaposition was the first experience offered to visitors to the museum before they proceeded to other parts of the exhibition. The encounter was intended to set the scene for a process of dialogue rather than presentation of a fixed view, thus serving as a marker for the core purpose of the museum. The two works were of course linked by landscape as subject. For Richard Long, however, landscape provides both subject and material, and his art is made as a result of experience, whereas Paul Henry made art to describe experience. These concepts of embodiment or representation are distinct but related narratives of art in the twentieth century.”

In the current installation the original Paul Henry painting Turf Stack in the Bog borrowed from University Limerick’s Collection has been replaced with IMMA’s Lake and Blue Mountains of Connemara signifying the growth and richness of the Museum’s Collection.