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Royal Hibernian Academy


Ireland’s Powerhouse of the Arts, steered by an artist-run Academy of our time. The Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts lives in the centre of Dublin City in a modern building with five gallery spaces and multiple studios for student courses and artist residencies. The RHA has always aspired to cultivate Art in Ireland. For 200 years we have been run by eminent artists and architects, elected by their peers in recognition of their work. RHA Academicians work in tandem with the gallery team and RHA director to realise the core vision of supporting artists, training students and exhibiting contemporary art: to concentrate native talent in one place, as one community. In its earliest years funding for the Academy was underwritten by the English monarch. Today, the institution operates as independent Irish charity, receiving much of its income from exhibitions and important donors. Having existed either side of the Republic’s formation, and through the war of independence, the RHA plays a significant part within both the historic and art-historic landscape of the country. The RHA has a diverse exhibition programme of both traditional and new art forms, created by RHA Academicians, up-and-coming names and nationally and internationally recognised artists. This includes the RHA Annual, Ireland’s largest and longest running open-submission art exhibition, both organised and judged by our member artists. The RHA Story The birth of the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts was in the Georgian period. St Stephen’s Green had only recently become a park and the Irish Parliament just commenced works to widen, pave and clean Dublin’s cobbled roadways and granite pavements, lit by gaslight. New ornamental bridges were springing up to connect the Liffey’s banks and across them walked increasing numbers of impoverished people, fleeing visitations of famine. The lane off Thomas-street was occupied with bookbinders, saddlers, haberdashers, armourers, taverns. Leeches and lancets were in fashion. Organised insurrections were taking place with subsequent tumults, and King George IV had recently visited with a brigade of knights. It is vital to see the lives of the RHA founding artists in this historical context: a band of thirty or so initially, who displayed such a great strength of will for over a decade before receiving a Royal Charter and independence. The passionate rigour of RHA member artists remains at our heart-centre to this day. As a central cultural institution, the RHA’s rich heritage has always illuminated – and been shaped by – political, economic and socio-cultural changes within our nation and globally. Read more about our history since the celebrated landscape painter and founding member William Ashford was inaugurated as our first Academy President.