A new contemporary art gallery has been officially opened in Athlone by Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
Luan Gallery is the first purpose-built, municipal visual art gallery located in the midlands. The aim of the new space, run by Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd, is to promote a dynamic contemporary visual art programme of both established and emerging artists.
A total of €3.4 million was invested in the development of the gallery by the Border Midland and Western Regional Assembly, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Athlone Town Council.
The 575 m2 gallery was designed by Keith Williams Architects who also designed the Wexford Opera House. The new dedicated art space is located on a spectacular site overlooking the River Shannon, adjacent to the town’s historic bridge, Athlone Castle and the Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The scheme adapts the town’s historic 1897 Father Mathew Hall into a new gallery, adds a new wing with state-of-the-art audio visual capabilities and a riverfront gallery space overlooking the Shannon.
Minister Deenihan said, “This stunningly designed gallery will serve to display the great wealth of local artistic talent and will allow the artists involved an opportunity to showcase their work. The Gallery along with Athlone Castle which has just re-opened as a state-of-the-art multi-sensory visitor attraction after extensive renovation certainly puts Athlone in a strong position to become a vibrant and attractive location for artistic endeavour in the years to come.”
Jim Henson, Mayor of Athlone said, “It is fantastic to see this landmark building with new life and function as a modern gallery space. This site will continue to inspire people as it has always done for generations to come.”
The development of the Luan Gallery is part of a larger ‘cultural revival’ programme being implemented in the midlands town. Athlone Castle has just re-opened as a state-of-the-art, multi-sensory visitor attraction following an extensive renovation project carried out by Event Communications, a London and Dublin based company that also developed the Belfast Titanic Visitor Experience and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre. Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd. has also recently developed Abbey Road Artists’ Studios supporting the professional development of local and visiting arts practitioners in a dedicated space.
The Luan Gallery is now open to the public with an exhibition featuring the work of acclaimed Irish and International artists from the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s (IMMA) permanent collection. Entry to the exhibition is free.
Danny McLoughlin, Westmeath County Manager said, “The new Luan Gallery is a wonderful addition to Athlone and the county of Westmeath. It is a rich resource that will add significantly to the landscape of the wider midlands region.”
The name of the new gallery derives from the Irish for Athlone, ‘Baile Áth Luain’ and was chosen following a public competition to suggest a name for the new facility.