Peter Murray, Director of the Crawford Art Gallery, has announced his retirement. Over the course of three decades at the Crawford Art Gallery, firstly as curator and latterly as Director, Murray has led the Crawford from being a municipal art gallery to becoming a National Cultural Institution.
Trained as an art historian, but also a practising artist, Murray received a BA from UCD, followed by a post-graduate M. Litt at Trinity College. As curator at the Crawford, Murray edited the first ever catalogue raisonne of the Gallery collection, detailing the paintings, sculptures and prints acquired since the early nineteenth century. Since the publication of that catalogue in 1991, the collection has more than doubled in size, and now encompasses some four thousand works. Highlights among these new acquisitions are the Great Southern Art collection, the Fr. John McGrath bequest, the Seamus Murphy studio, the Watson stained glass studio, and the AIB collection.
The AIB Collection is without doubt the most outstanding addition to the Crawford's holdings. It includes three works by Jack B Yeats, notably his masterpiece, A Race in Hy Brazil. In addition to the acquisition of these works and curating many pioneering exhibitions, of both historic and contemporary art, the Crawford, under Murray's leadership, has benefitted through the addition of a fine new exhibition wing. Completed in 2000, this new extension adds some of the finest exhibition spaces in Ireland, to an already imposing historic building. Among the outstanding exhibitions curated by Murray was 0044, a survey show of twenty contemporary Irish artists, which toured in 1999-2000 to the Albright-Knox Museum and P.S.1 in New York.
Murray says of his time at the Crawford "We've come a long way over the past quarter of a century, and much has been achieved, but none of this would have been possible without the support of remarkable people, notably Dick Langford of the City of Cork VEC, and John Bowen, chair of the Gallery over the past decade. The new chair, Rose McHugh, and the new board, have inherited a fine institution, one that can be led to new heights in coming years." Murray also paid tribute to the Gallery team, led by Norma Cuddihy, that has underpinned the achievements of the Crawford and its growth in national and international status.
Through his scholarship and writing, Murray has made a significant contribution to Irish art history, encouraging a wider awareness of this important part of the national heritage. His recent work in co-editing the Royal Irish Academy's magnificent volume on 20th century Irish painting has provided further recognition of this aspect of his directorship. Although retiring as Director, Murray will continue his work as an art historian and artist.
Rose McHugh, new chair of the Crawford Gallery, paid tribute to Murray's contribution. "Without doubt Peter has been a great Director with a unique artistic vision, one that encompasses both the creativity of today and also the art of past centuries. On behalf of the board and the staff I would like to thank him for his outstanding contribution and wish him every success in his retirement"
The recruitment process for a new director will commence shortly through the Public Appointments service, and in the intervening time Norma Cuddihy Head of Operations, will take over as Interim Director.