Ulster Museum Art Collection

Masterworks go on show. Watch an online exhibition below, featuring Head of Art, Kim Mawhinney

A new exhibition of Irish and international art has opened in Ulster Museum, replacing the controversial Sean Scully retrospective and taking the viewer on a visual journey through seven genres and four centuries of portrait and landscape painting.

The exhibition, triumphantly entitled Visions – Spectacular Art from the Ulster Museum, features more than 170 works from the permanent collection, and others loaned for the occasion. It include works by a range of notable Irish painters including Sir John Lavery, Jack B Yeats and Roderic O’Conor. British and international highlights include work by JMW Turner, LS Lowry, Francis Bacon, Gilbert & George and Jean Dubuffet.

The exhibition also features a video piece, 'Ghost Story' by Turner Prize finalist Willie Doherty, and a new fashion gallery, ‘Grand Designers’, featuring work by some of the world's finest designers including the late Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Ozzie Clarke and Versace.

It's the first time fashion and dress making has featured as part of the Costumes on displaymuseum's art collection since the museum lost a substantial portion of its costume archive in a bomb blast on Malone House in 1976.

To coincide with the exhibition launch, the museum’s curators of fine art, Dr Eileen Black and Anne Stewart, have produced a new publication Visions - A Celebration of Irish Art from the Ulster Museum detailing 100 Irish works from the 17th century to the present day. The publication is available from the museum’s shop.

Kim Mawhinney, Head of Art at National Museums Northern Ireland, revealed that the new Visions exhibition will be on display until autumn 2010, and will run alongside a series of art-related events, including artist talks by the likes of Willie Doherty and Rita Duffy in the museum's new lecture hall.

'The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive series of events including tours, talks and workshops as part of a new ‘Art For Everyone’ programme,' remarked Mawhinney. 'Full information is available on our website – and, of course, entrance to the Ulster Museum is free.'

Mawhinney also revealed that a major piece of sculpture will also soon be displayed in the museum's gallery space, and that works on display will be regularly refreshed with other works from the permanent collection.

The themes included in Visions – Spectacular Art from the Ulster Museum are:

Renaissance to Romanticism - Old Master Paintings

The museum’s Old Master collection has been built up since 1893 and comprises works by Flemish, Dutch, Italian and British painters of the 15th to the 19th centuries. This selection includes one of the most significant donations in the history of the museum: JMW Turner’s 'Dawn of Christianity (Flight into Egypt)', given in 1913.

A New Order - 20th Century Irish Art

Highlights of the 20th century Irish art collection arranged to illustrate three themes: Figure, Place and Imagination. During the closure of the Ulster Museum new acquisitions have entered the art collection, most notably two major works by Derry artist Willie Doherty, 'Apparatus', a series of 40 photographs of Belfast, and 'Ghost Story', a powerful video installation that was first shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007.

Faces and Places - Irish Art 1690s-1880s

This exhibition illustrates the increasing sophistication of portraiture in Ireland from the 1690s and the emergence of landscape painting from the 1720s. Included are major portrait painters like James Latham and Nathaniel Hone and landscapists such as George Barret and Sir John Lavery, whose 'Under the Cherry Tree' is one of the most important works in the collection.

The Grand Designers

This exhibition features fashions through the decades from 1900s to 2010 including pieces by the late Alexander McQueen. The exhibition also includes pieces by Vivienne Westwood, Versace, Molyneux, Yves Saint Laurent, Mary Quant, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana. The earliest piece in the exhibition is a 1900s yellow, puff-sleeved Edwardian dress made from silk and velvet. The exhibition covers fashion from every decade including the trademark mini skirts of the 1960s and the distinctive ‘floating’ style of the 1970s.

Drawing the Line

This exhibition shows the highest quality drawings and watercolours of the Ulster Museum's permanent collection. On display is a comprehensive array of Irish, British and Continental works on paper from the 17th century to the present day, including important artists such as John Henry Fuseli, Andrew Nicholl, Dr James Moore, Richard Dunscombe Parker and Kenneth Shoesmith.

Power to Shock - 20th Century British Art

Highlights of the 20th century British art collection arranged to illustrate three themes: Intimacy, Enclosure and Abstraction. The display will give an overview of British art from Sickert to the work of contemporary artist Matt Collinshaw and will feature 'Head II' by Francis Bacon, recently returned from major exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Prado in Madrid and the Tate in London.

After The Bomb - Post-War International Art

A display devoted to the highlights of the International art collection at the Ulster Museum. The most important works date from the 1950s and 1960s and include examples by American and European painters most notably: Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Karel Appel and Jean Dubuffet.