Above photo by Natura Naturans (Laura Callaghan)
The Naughton Gallery was established in 2001 and is located inside the heart of the impressive Queen's University Belfast's Lanyon Building. The Gallery displays both local and international artists, and it is renowned for its innovative contemporary art exhibitions. The exhibitions usually change every 6 – 8 weeks; meaning there is always something new to see! These temporary exhibitions often celebrate diversity and consider issues relating to gender, race and sexuality.
The contemporary art space playfully juxtaposes the historic exterior of Queen's University and provides a sanctuary outside of academic life. The University was chartered in 1845, and prominent architect Charles Lanyon designed the beautiful main site buildings. The Lanyon building has recently undergone full restoration and cleaning. The gallery space is small, but with each exhibition, the space transforms to suit the art and the artist presented.
To find the Naughton Gallery, enter the Lanyon building, turn left and go up the main staircase, take another left and walk into the Gallery's foyer, where objects from the University's Silver Collection are on display. The Naughton Gallery is through the double doors at the end of the foyer.
The current exhibition is entitled Fire in the Middle (13.02.2020 – 22.03.2020) by local Belfast artist Miguel Martin (b.1985). Martin sensitively uses video installation, sound and sculpture to convey his conceptual narratives relating to mythology, science fiction and the digital mapping of post-conflict Belfast. My previous favourite exhibitions were Natura Naturans (Laura Callaghan), 'SCUSE ME (various artists), and It Was a Night (Marie Jacotey). Information on current and past shows can be found in the Gallery or on the Naughton Gallery's website.
The connecting foyer area hosts the exquisite Silver Collection of Queen's University. Within the showcases, there are two ceremonial maces, one made from silver and another of 18-carat gold. There are a pair of silver cockerels and an Egyptian Rose Bowl, as well as the silver collections of Sir Robert Hart and James McDonnell Esquire. My favourite object from the silver collection is the Silver and Bronze Crucifix from the J. H. Grundy Bequest. This crucifix was once owned by Felix Yusupov, a member of the group of Russian aristocrats who took part in the assassination of Grigori Rasputin.
There is more artwork displayed throughout the University, such as their Portrait Collection, Art Collection and Sculpture Collection. Selected portraits are shown in the University's notable Great Hall. The Portrait Collection consists of paintings of prominent figures in the University's history such as previous Chancellors and Vice-Chancellors and the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. If there is no function on in the Great Hall, feel free to visit the paintings. Queen's Sculpture Collection is presented in various parts of the university campus and ranges from historic to contemporary. Look out for Thomas Brock's War Memorial when entering the Lanyon Building and Marc Didou's Eco at the entrance of the McClay library.
The Naughton Gallery is breastfeeding friendly, and there are seats and benches to rest. Visitors can take photographs and, depending on the exhibition, are encouraged to interact with the art on display. The Gallery Assistants are welcoming and happy to help with anything you need. The Queen's University Welcome Centre is located on the ground floor of the Lanyon Building, where you can purchase merchandise relating to the Gallery.
The Naughton Gallery runs a series of events such as 'Art in the AM' and a book club. All of the exhibitions have an opening night with a DJ and free refreshments such as beer, wine and nibbles. You can get more information about events on their social media pages, website or by subscribing to the Naughton Gallery newsletter.
Naughton Gallery at Queen's
Queen's University Belfast,
University Road, Belfast,
BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland, UK
Opening Times: 11.00 am – 4.00 pm Tuesday – Sunday (The Gallery may be closed for exhibition hanging. You can check beforehand on their Facebook or Instagram.)
It may be difficult to park on the weekdays. Parking around the University is available to the public on weekends.
Access: Wheelchair access is available via a lift from the Welcome Centre on the ground floor.
Images courtesy of the Naughton Gallery.
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Emma is a PhD Candidate in Museum Studies and Public History at Queen’s University Belfast. Her research examines the complexities surrounding displaying religious objects in museum spaces. Emma’s broader interests include art history, exhibition design and anthropology. She holds an MA in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies and a BA in Modern History.