The Collection

“The Waterford Municipal Art Collection is one of the hidden gems of the Irish art world, offering a fascinating view of Irish painting in the first half of the twentieth century”.

Dr Peter Jordan, Senior Lecturer in the History of Art, Waterford Institute of Technology

The Waterford Collection of Art forms an integral part of the city’s cultural heritage and identity. Formerly known as The Waterford Municipal Art Collection, it is acknowledged as one of the oldest and best municipal collections of art in Ireland.

Originally founded in 1939 alongside the establishment of the Waterford Art Museum, the collection has grown considerably since and now comprises over 500 works of art. These include paintings, prints and sculptures – much of which provide a valuable insight into the development of twentieth-century Irish Art.

Significant highlights of the collection includes works by Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Mainie Jellett, Louis Le Brocquy, Letitia Hamilton, Dermod O’Brien, Evie Hone, Mary Swanzy, Hilda Roberts, Seán Keating, Charles Lamb, Eileen Murray, and George Russell (aka. AE), as well as contemporary acquisitions of work by Michael (Ben) Hennessy, Breda Lynch, Hughie O’Donoghue, Donald Teskey, and Kathleen Delaney.

The conception of a civic art gallery and collection within the city can be dated back to the early 1930s. The marriage of artist Hilda Roberts to Arnold Marsh, the headmaster of Newtown School Waterford, soon resulted in the establishment of an annual art exhibition within the school’s gymnasium. This further strengthened a growing network of artists and
likeminded advocates for the arts.

The collection was previously housed at several locations within the city including the Library, Greyfriars Church, and Garter Lane Arts Centre. On the 18 October 2019, the collection was rehoused and displayed at its new permanent home, the Waterford Gallery of Art, located at 31-32 O’Connell Street. This former bank building was built in 1845 and now serves as a dedicated facility comprising galleries, outreach spaces, offices, meeting
and workshop rooms.

The first Waterford Art Exhibition, Newtown School, Waterford, 1935.