Expanded National Gallery reopens in Dublin

80 per cent more gallery space and 650 paintings on display.

The historic wings of the National Gallery of Ireland – areas of which have been closed for decades – will reopen to the public on 15 June, following a six-year programme of rebuilding, refurbishment and restoration that cost around €30 million.

Ireland's outgoing premier Enda Kenny visited the gallery on 14 June in what was his final official appointment before stepping down as Taoiseach after six years in office.

Since 2011 around 80 per cent of the gallery's exhibition space has been out of bounds to allow for works overseen by the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Heneghan Peng, a Dublin-based architectural firm responsible for large-scale international projects such as the Grand Egyptian Museum currently nearing completion in Giza.

The National Gallery now has a new glazed internal courtyard, between the Dargan Wing and the 1901 Milltown Wing, as part of a redesign project to integrate 15 different museum levels over four wings built between 1864 and 2002.

The new-look gallery building has some 650 works on display including a freshly-restored Perugino and a new portrait of champion hurler Henry Shefflin by Tipperary artist Gerry Davis.

The gallery's reopening will coincide with the exhibition Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry (17 June-17 Sept), co-organised with the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Last year the gallery attracted 750,000 visitors but this year its director Sean Rainbird expects visitor numbers to top one million.