Art & Artists

Art & Artists

For 200 years we have championed the creative endeavour of Irish artists.

With a unique governance structure and independent charity status, The Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts is led by a Council of Academicians – our member artists.

Since its founding in 1823, the RHA has been ambitious in its mission connect artists to new audiences. This would not be possible without the enthusiasm and financial support of RHA Friends, Patrons and Donors.

Each year the RHA exhibition programme shows a wide variety of art across five gallery spaces. The curatorial team offers support and mentorship for working artists through their studio visits and exhibition programme – and the RHA School is part of our unique legacy as a training art school.

We invite you to come and see our current exhibitions. There is nothing more exciting for our team than seeing new works unpacked and exhibitions installed. We also have an online permanent collection of artwork gifted by our Academicians over the past 200 years: a selection of which you can see on this page.

First and foremost the RHA is an artistic-centred community: this is what gives its public shows a particular energy or cachet.
- Bernard Dunleavy, Ex-Chair RHA Programme Advisory Board


The Academy first originated when artists from the Society of Artists in Ireland petitioned the current Viceroy, Earl Talbot, to exhibit their works annually.

Later awarded a Charter of Incorporation and a modest annual grant in 1823, these Academicians continued to improve their social and professional standing and find a market place to free themselves from the restrictions of direct royal, church, or private patronage.

Today, we are still an artist-run Academy, providing studios for artists to study and practise and galleries for exhibition. Academicians continue to be peer-to-peer elected, united in the belief that art education and public exhibition have the power to transform culture and spur thinking. Thanks to our founding members, we still offer an open invitation for one and all to find an anchor for the love of art.

The idea of the Academy as a stronghold for artists and a place to unite artist and audience still underpins all that we do. We are the only fine art academy that survives in Ireland as a place of both exhibition and artistic production. I am very proud to be President of the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts. 
- Dr. Abigail O'Brien, RHA President

Past Exhibitions

Centrally located in Dublin, the RHA has the largest exhibition space in Ireland among its five galleries. As a living, functioning place with different types of creative exchanges taking place from top to bottom, the RHA has a dynamic spirit: we invite you to be part of it!

Exhibitions are open every day of the week with always free admission. The curation of our exhibition programme is based on quality and a dedication to supporting the careers of contemporary artists – both emerging, established and senior.

Past Exhibitions are now available to view online, backdated to 2005.

RHA Library & Archive Directory

The RHA’s Library Directory and Archive Directory are available to view online as a searchable PDF format. We invite all researchers to avail of this. If there are any further books, pamphlets or periodicals required, please email requests, giving your name and contact details, name of college / university where applicable and the purpose of their research to: Requests will be responded to individually and access arranged.

The RHA Library is open Monday to Friday throughout the year by appointment only to researchers who have made requests: only the requested books, pamphlets or periodicals files or documents are made available on that day.

The archive is open one day per month during the academic year to researchers who have made requests to view documents. The requested files or documents only are made available on that day under the supervision of the RHA’s Archivist. Some confidential files cannot be made available.


For general enquires or further information on the RHA Library or Archive, please contact the Academy Administrator Susan Dolan: 01 6612558 /

Original art, or original fine art, isn’t “original” just because it’s creative—it’s original because it’s one-of-a-kind.
- Rebecca Gale, RHA Marketing

RHA Collection

Over the years, artists and architects elected to join the Royal Hibernian Academy of Arts have donated an example of their work. These works are known as ‘diploma pieces’.

The RHA Collection currently consists of 400 works from 1748 to the present day. The majority is Irish contemporary art by our own Academicians – from John Lavery and John Butler Yeats, to Sean Scully and Imogen Stuart. We also preserve artwork of other renowned Irish and international artists that have been donated by our Patrons over the years.

Our Collection includes almost every genre with an emphasis on painting and sculpture. It has significant cultural value both in the context of Irish art and the lifespan of our own Academy, representing tumultuous periods of historical upheaval – and subsequent renewal. 

Currently, we don’t show a permanent collection in our building. For now, a selection of these artwork gifts can be seen below. Meanwhile, we are working on a wide-reaching research, conservation and digitisation project to show the full RHA Collection online for the first time as we reach our 200th anniversary in 2023.

Art To Buy

The RHA supports working artists and seeds the practices of younger, emerging artists. We actively seek to stage ambitious debut shows in our Ashford Gallery and also offer a wide range of in-house programmes, bursaries and awards to find and fund talent in addition to connecting new Irish artists in a supportive peer-to-peer community.

The Ashford Gallery is our sole commercial space and is dedicated to supporting Academicians and younger, unrepresented artists. The programme is specifically tailored to accommodate sales, provide curatorial expertise and attract younger collectors. All exhibition works are for sale online during each show.

The RHA Annual Exhibition is Ireland’s largest open submission exhibition showing emerging talent, established artists and first-time exhibitors side by side. A key event in the Irish art calendar for centuries, this is the place to discover new artists and start collecting!

Each year the Annual is selected and hung by our Academicians. All works are sold online during the exhibition and the proceeds help fund our programmes throughout each year. Now nearly 200 years old, the RHA Annual Exhibition continues our tradition of showcasing exceptional work in paint, sculpture, drawing, print, photography and architecture and provides an electric occasion for everyone to celebrate contemporary art.

The RHA Story

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Visionary artists. Political revolutions. Destruction and rebirth, followed by a decades-long struggles to find a new home. The RHA has experienced all this and more in its 200-year history and come through thriving. Read 10 key moments from two centuries of passionate cultural engagement.


School Access Programme

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Thanks to an anonymous donor, each year the RHA awards two free All Access Passes to the Academy’s Workshops, Student Courses, Talks & Lectures and Masterclasses sessions. One award is given to an artist currently enrolled at any of the third-level art colleges in Ireland. The other award is offered to an artist of merit at any stage of their career.

Ashford Gallery: Open Call

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The RHA invites artists to submit proposals to exhibit in the RHA Ashford Gallery – slots will begin in autumn 2022 and will be scheduled up to autumn 2023. The Ashford Gallery is an art sales space within the RHA, creating opportunities for artists to earn income and meet collectors and new audiences.

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