National Gallery of Ireland launches the Apollo Project

The Apollo Project is a new initiative designed for young people to engage with the arts by the National Gallery of Ireland and Russborough House.

A group of young people life drawing as part of the Apollo Project

The National Gallery of Ireland have officially launched the Apollo Project, a new initiative designed for young people to engage with the arts and have their voices heard. 

From the beginning of the Project, the Gallery engaged with young people to design a programme that would meet their needs. With the arts in Ireland becoming increasingly difficult to branch into, the Apollo Project presents an open space to network, ask questions, and be inspired.

In connection with Russborough House and supported by the Alfred Beit Foundation, the National Gallery of Ireland takes a bold step forwards in creating a project which will change how young people interact with the arts. The Project is a three year initiative with hopes for expanding beyond that timeframe.

Apollo Fellow Jessica Supple spoke about the importance of the Apollo Project in light of issues within the arts, “Young people don’t know that this is a place for them or don’t feel a part of it so they can’t bring to the Gallery all that they have, which is incredible creativity. There is so much they can give in terms of ideas, [..] and there is that connection missing. It is a conversation and it’s a dialogue and it’s not happening. […] I think things need to change in Ireland.”

Speaking about the initial focus group session for the Project, Supple said, “It was a powerful moment in the Project because it was the first time we had young people in and doing and being a part of things. It was powerful to see the mix of people.”

Designworks, a design agency in Dublin, have been working closely with the Gallery to create the perfect logo and design layout for the new Project. Throughout the focus group sessions, the design team have listened to young people’s advice and hopes for the Project and found exciting ways of incorporating it into the final product. 

From the initial focus group, many of the young people showed a desire for an even greater expansion of diversity and inclusivity in the Gallery. When asked what art meant to them, they responded from a personal level. Supple said, “I think that move away from practical into emotional, the intangible, is exciting because I think it allows you to meet people at a different place. It allows you to actually provide something that nurtures more than the physical, it nurtures the intangible and there is something so good about that.”

Over the span of the last few years, there has been a strong push to see more diversity within the Gallery. In March, the National Gallery of Ireland hosted Dublin’s first OUTing the Past: the Festival of LGBT history. There are also monthly LGBT+ tours, in which the history of gender and sexual identity are explored through the works on display.  

With the Apollo Project, young people can now utilise the space for their own passions and artistic projects. It is a chance to have a voice and be a part of one of Ireland’s oldest institutions. As the Project’s website states: “Believe in your potential. Live a creative life. Art makes you.”

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