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Model Arts & Niland Gallery

  • Architect:
    McCullough Mulvin
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2001
  • Location: Connacht
Model Arts & Niland Gallery


Western (over £100,000)

The controlled use of a broad palette of materials, spatial awareness and an intelligent, inventive response to programme and existing building mark this project as exceptional. 

Client’s Comments
This is a sensitive and sympathetic response to a complex brief combined with a clear and determined resolution of introducing a new building. All of the old building has been retained and many of the original features, including floors, windows and fireplaces have been retained and this underlines the architects ability to fuse these features into her vision for the building and how it would look. And well it looks! From the reception area through to the atrium there is a lightness and brightness which allows people to find their bearings. The building of a new purpose built gallery has finally provided us with the opportunity to house and store the Niland Collection in proper conditions. It is a subtle space which does not vie with the exhibits for attention. The architect has responded to the brief with a sensitive touch and a bold imagination.

Architects Comments
A nineteenth century ‘Model School’ on the edge of Sligo Town has been transformed and extended to create an Arts Centre, in a unique partnership with Sligo County Council, Sligo Corporation and the town’s voluntary arts organisation, the Model Arts Centre, who were operating the building with buckets and shoestrings on a long term temporary basis. 

The building houses the town’s significant Jack B. Yeats paintings in permanent collection and hosts contemporary visual arts exhibitions. A small performance space caters for music and film and there are educational spaces and study facilities for Yeats scholars. The old building cranked around a series of grim exercise yards, which are now swept away to generate a roof-lit central space. Around this, all the activities of the building are organised in pinwheel fashion, stepping up a steep hill and mediating between the existing entrance areas and the new gallery spaces. The new Niland Gallery, a rectangular cedar and zinc clad box, slides across to the north side to close the new central space. North lights provide shadowless daylight for the paintings. 

Environmentally, the new galleries are designed to achieve UK Museums and Galleries Commission standards of environmental control without air handling or conditioning. Temperature, relative humidity and lux levels are controlled by a sophisticated building management system which monitors louvres and dampers on the north side, humidifiers or dehumidifiers, windows and blinds, in a continually changing equilibrium.