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Declan Mc Gonagle has been Director of the National College of Art and Design, Dublin, since 2008. Prior to that he directed Interface Research Centre at University of Ulster, [2004 – 2008], dealing with issues of art/design, context and contested space. He set up and directed the Civil Arts Inquiry at City Arts Centre, Dublin, from [2001 – 2004], and was the founding Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, [1991 – 2001] following periods as Director of the Orchard Gallery in Derry and Director of Exhibitions at the ICA in London in the period 1978 – 1990. 
In 1987, McGonagle became the only curator to be shortlisted for the Turner Prize thanks to his work at the Orchard Gallery in Derry. The gallery was known for bringing the work of significant international artists to Derry, notably an installation of sculptures by Antony Gormley on the city walls, one of the artist's first Public Art projects, as well as promoting Irish artists, such as Willie Doherty and Victor Sloan abroad. Prior to this he had been an exhibitions officer at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He was also the curator of the First Tyne International exhibition in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1990 - artists participating included Marina Abramović, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Richard Deacon, Mona Hatoum, Chris Burden and Jana Sterbak.
McGonagle became the first director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art when it opened in 1991, but after reported arguments with the chairwoman of the board, Marie Donnelly, he stepped down in 2001. He subsequently took over as director of the City Arts Centre in Dublin, spearheading the Civil Arts Inquiry.
McGonagle is also internationally regarded as a writer and commentator on art being a regular contributor to Artforum. One of his major themes is for contemporary art to respond to social issues. He was chairman of the 2006 panel of judges for the Irish American Arts Awards.
- McKeone, Marion (December 23, 2001). "The art of mismanagement". Ireland: Sunday Tribune. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
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