Rural Ireland: The Inside Story
February 11—June 3, 2012
In depicting how Irish country people worshipped, mourned, conducted business, arranged their homes, and educated and entertained themselves, Rural Ireland: The Inside Story offers new visual evidence about the varied lives of a politically marginalized population. Although the works on display reveal poverty and deprivation during the Famine era, they convey aesthetic pleasures, spiritual satisfactions, and tenants' negotiations with a growing consumer economy. In gathering many recently discovered genre paintings of nineteenth-century rural interiors, most displayed for the first time in America, the exhibition also challenges assumptions that artists working in Ireland painted only the "big houses" and landscapes of an Anglo-Irish elite. The Inside Story includes many examples of the household objects—furniture, cooking utensils, and ceramics—visible in the paintings, as well as archeological shards from an evicted Famine cabin and books from the University's Burns Library. Works of art have been borrowed from the National Gallery of Ireland, the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, the National Library of Ireland, the Ulster Museum, the National Gallery of Scotland, as well as a range of smaller public and private collections in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Exhibition sections: The Irish Tenant | The Strong Farmer | The Famine-Era Rural Poor | Working Men | Working Women | Reading and Writing | Courtship and Marriage | Music, Dance, and Public Entertainment | Mourning: The Wake | Lawbreaking | Continuity and Change
Organized by the McMullen Museum, in collaboration with the Irish Studies faculty and the Burns Library at Boston College, Rural Ireland: The Inside Story has been co-curated by Vera Kreilkamp and Diana Larsen in consultation with Marjorie Howes, Claudia Kinmonth, and Joseph Nugent. The exhibition has been underwritten by Boston College, the Patrons of the McMullen Museum, and Culture Ireland, with additional support from Eileen and Brian Burns.