|This article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2008)|
Highlanes Gallery is a public art gallery and visual arts exhibition centre in Drogheda, Ireland.
The gallery opened its doors on October 4, 2006 and was the culmination of many years planning to deliver a dedicated visual arts space for the Irish north east region, of an International standard in terms of design, management and environmental control.
The gallery is sited in the former Drogheda Franciscan Church and part of the Friary; known locally as the ‘High Lane Church’. The Franciscans gifted the property to the people of Drogheda when they ended their 760 year association with the town in 2000. The buildings date from the early 19th century, though elements date back to earlier times and include the former Franciscan burial crypts. The main exhibition spaces are open plan and include the old Church level and a new floor at the height of the old balcony and as such, the character of the building is not lost.
Highlanes Gallery has a strong survey of Irish art from the early 20th Century, and has great depth in relation to the representation of the key women painters of the period, including Nano Reid, Bea Orpen, Evie Hone, Mary Swanzy, Nathaniel Hill, May Guinness and Sarah Purser among others. It has also a number of important 18th Century works, including two important views of Drogheda by the Italian artist, Gabriele Ricciardelli, b. Naples fl. 1743/1782 d. c. 1782.
The Gallery raised over €4 million from a range of international and local donors. This is a major achievement for the town as none of the cash has come from direct government funding, with several local individuals making very large cash donations to the project. The board of the gallery also made a strategic decision to purchase much of the adjoining property a number of years ago, to enable it plan for the Highlanes Gallery long-term development. Much of this property has been incorporated in the development and will be rented to cross subsidise the gallery programme.
Highlanes Gallery programme over the first year will see it reintroduce the Drogheda Municipal Art Collection to the public for a three-month period. This will be complemented with borrowed works from national and private collections, in order to place the late 19th century works in the Drogheda collection in their context, which has a strong representation from women artists. Other elements of the little known Drogheda Municipal Art Collection – which dates from the 17th Century, will also be shown from time to time.
Highlanes Gallery are also working closely with Banbridge District Council who are developing a space dedicated to the studio of F.E. McWilliam, this will lead to joint programming and education services in the coming years between both towns. Development work on the gallery will continue into 2007. The Highlanes Gallery has full planning permission for Phase 2 - more environmentally controlled storage areas, two further ‘cube galleries’ and an education centre in 2007.
In addition, the Gallery's education programme includes in its early phase a strong emphasis on adult education, including art history lectures, early childhood work and a strong internet site aimed at teenage school children to provide them with an easy to use internet site to assist their art history education and development.
The Gallery has a craftshop and cafe which specialises in craft or artisan food produced in the region, including the eastern seaboard of Ireland and Northern Ireland.