Dr Caroline Campbell makes history at national gallery

From BBC News

A Belfast-born curator has been appointed the first female director of the National Gallery of Ireland in its 158-year history. Dr Caroline Campbell is a former pupil of Victoria College in Belfast and first visited the gallery aged 16 on a day trip. She told BBC News NI that the visit had sent her ‘on her life's journey’.

Originally opened in 1864, the gallery on Dublin's Merrion Square houses Ireland's national collection of art. It also has an extensive collection of European art and is one of the Republic of Ireland's most popular visitor attractions. The gallery previously underwent a major refurbishment which was completed in 2017.

'A nice lunch'

Dr Campbell is currently director of collections and research at the National Gallery, London. She is a graduate of the University of Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.But Dr Campbell told BBC News NI that a visit to the National Gallery of Ireland had inspired her choice of career.

"I'm from a generation that was born, raised and educated during the Troubles," she said.

"When I was 16, my mother took me to Dublin for the first time, on the train from Belfast.

"I remember the exciting day trip included shopping and a nice lunch at the Powerscourt Centre. However, nothing but our visit to the National Gallery - where we began - sticks in my mind. It felt amazing for everyone, so inspiring and very welcoming."


She said she still remembered the pictures she saw at the National Gallery of Ireland on that visit. "For years, I carried around the postcards we bought that day," she said. "I stuck them with Blu Tack to my bedroom wall. They came with me to Oxford, Florence, and several shared flats in London until they fell to pieces. I had seen fine pictures on the walls of the Ulster Museum in Belfast. But that visit to Dublin was the start of a journey into art that's always given me pleasure and sustenance."