Crawford Art Gallery
History and Development of Cork's No 1 Art Gallery.

World's Best Art Museums

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. Munster's
Most Famous Municipal Fine Arts

Crawford Art Gallery: History

The present building was erected in 1724, as Cork’s Custom House - a fact which reflects the close connection between the city's prosperity and its role as a major port in the early eighteenth and nineteenth century. In 1830, it was expanded and in 1850 became a Government School of Design, overseen from London. In 1884, due to rising student numbers, a major extension, paid for by William Horatio Crawford, was added to house new studios and galleries. The complex was named the Crawford Municipal School of Art, after its principal benefactor. In 1979, the Crawford College of Art moved out to its current premises and the building became the official home for the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery. Finally, in 2000, the Gallery further increased its display space through the creation of a new 1,000 sq metre exhibition wing of contemporary art financed by the Department of Arts and Heritage.

For reviews of the best museums
of arts in Ireland, see:
- National Gallery of Ireland
- National Museum of Ireland
- Irish Museum of Modern Art
- Hugh Lane Gallery Dublin
- Chester Beatty Library
- Trinity College Dublin Library
- National Self-Portrait Collection
- The Hunt Museum (Limerick)
- Ulster Museum.


The Crawford Family

Of Scottish origin, William Crawford II - one of seven children - came to Cork in 1792, and founded the brewing firm along with William Beamish. Rapidly successful, the Beamish and Crawford brewery quickly became the largest brewer in Munster, if not the country, employing almost five hundred people in 1807, and within 35 years was paying nearly 13 percent of all the Cork city's rates. His son William Crawford 'the Younger' was one of the founders of the original school of art in Cork, but it was his grandson William Horatio Crawford (1812-1888) who did the greatest service to the history of Irish art by becoming the benefactor responsible for the construction of the outstanding building which today is the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery. After a lifetime working at the family brewery, he died unmarried in 1888.

The brewery has long since passed out of family control, and there are no Crawfords still resident in Cork. However, one of the family - John Crawford, of London - is an active member of the Friends of the Crawford Art Gallery, thus maintaining the link between the foremost patrons of Cork art and the city's magnificent gallery. Today, both the gallery and college are important contributors to visual art in Ireland.

• For details of other Munster fine art exhibitions and collections, see: Irish Galleries and Museums.
• For details of the world's top museums, see: Homepage.
• For more about arts venues in Ireland, like the Crawford, see: Irish Art Guide.

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