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The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making It Irish
February 6–June 5, 2016

Showcases Masterpieces on Display for First Time outside Ireland 

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (December 21, 2015) — The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College presents The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making It Irish, an exclusive exhibition of more than 150 ecclesiastical and domestic objects on display from February 6 to June 5, 2016—during a year of centenary commemoration across Ireland of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The exhibition offers the first comprehensive examination of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement as it was experienced in the context of cultural nationalism and major political transformation, according to organizers. It explores that movement within the contexts of nationalism, feminism, Celtic Revivalism, and modernism. Like the more familiar Irish Literary Revival of the same era, Ireland’s Arts and Crafts practice accompanied and shaped the country’s transformation from colony to independent nation, and in the North, to continuing ties with the United Kingdom.

As its centerpiece, The Arts and Craft Movement: Making It Irish introduces stunning early medieval-influenced metalwork, embroidered textiles and vestments, altar cards, and leatherwork from the Honan Chapel, Cork. The collection of this ideologically charged masterpiece of Arts and Crafts achievement, consecrated in 1916, has never before traveled beyond Cork, Ireland.

“The McMullen is pleased to present the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to the Arts and Crafts movement as it was uniquely conceived in Ireland,” said McMullen Museum director and professor of art history Nancy Netzer. “The exhibition and accompanying catalogue with essays by scholars on both sides of the Atlantic reveals that, like the writers of the Irish Literary Revival, artists of the Irish Arts and Crafts movement—many of whom were women—viewed their work as contributing to a vision of a modern, independent Ireland in the South.”

[MEDIA NOTE: Images available on request from the McMullen: Please email Kate Shugert ( Slideshow of images, more exhibition details at]

Public Opening Reception: Monday, February 8 7:00–9:00 p.m.
On Monday, February 8 from 7–9:00 p.m., the public is invited to join BC community members for an opening reception. The free event will be held at the Museum in Devlin Hall 110,

Curators and Lenders
Organized by the McMullen Museum, the exhibition is co-curated by Vera Kreilkamp, a professor in BC’s Irish Studies Program, and Diana Larsen, McMullen assistant director, in collaboration with Virginia Teehan, director of cultural projects at University College Cork. It is underwritten by Boston College, the Patrons of the McMullen Museum, and an anonymous donor in honor of Colman Welby, with transportation provided by Aer Lingus. Additional support has been provided by Ireland’s Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, John Sisk and Sons, and the College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences, University College Cork.

Exhibition lenders include the National Museum of Ireland, Abbey Theatre, Royal Irish Academy, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, National College of Art and Design, and National Library of Ireland in Dublin; Crawford Art Gallery and the Board of Governors, Honan Chapel in Cork; St. Brendan’s Cathedral in Loughrea, County Galway; Ulster Museum in Belfast; Crab Tree Farm in Lake Bluff, IL; Rakow Research Library, Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY; John J. Burns Library at Boston College; as well as many private collectors in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the United States.

“During the centenary year of commemoration of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising that led to independence in the South, the exhibition demonstrates how early twentieth-century Irish artists and craftworkers reshaped an original English movement to meet their own country’s social and political needs,” said co-curator Kreilkamp. “More than 150 artifacts—the cultural work of a revolutionary era—draw on the motifs of a colonized country’s pre-conquest medieval ‘golden age’ past to make claims for Ireland’s future. Many dazzling works from the masterpiece of Irish Arts and Crafts achievement, the 1916 Honan Chapel in Cork City, are displayed for the first time outside of Ireland. Also featured are glass panels by Irish artists who created a celebrated modernist revival of stained glass in the early twentieth century.”

Added co-curator Larsen: “The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making It Irish presents an inclusive exhibition of the movement’s varied sources. The stained glass work of Harry Clarke, Wilhelmina Geddes, and the Tower of Glass studio stands out as a unique contribution to Irish Arts and Crafts. I have been excited to discover how this movement manifested itself beyond Ireland’s island borders through a stained glass commission by Harry Clarke’s disciple, Richard King, here at Boston College.” (More below.)

The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making It Irish
The Arts and Crafts movement championed traditional craftsmanship and high standards of design and artistry in the applied arts. The exhibition features objects that embody both Celtic Revivalist and pre-modernist visual motifs, demonstrating how early twentieth-century artisans looked back to their country’s past in order to move forward.

In addition to the display of treasures from the Honan Chapel, it gathers stained glass panels by artists Wilhelmina Geddes and Harry Clarke that evoke a Celtic and early Christian past, but embody the innovative modernism characterizing the Literary Revival. Three Arts and Crafts windows in Boston College’s Bapst Library, commissioned in the 1950s from Harry Clarke’s colleague and fellow stained glass artist Richard King, constitute an epilogue, illustrating how the University’s campus is a fitting setting for the exhibition. Other objects include handcrafted furniture and metalwork, paintings and drawings, carpets and wall hangings, ceramics, and jewelry replicating or responding to early medieval artifacts like the Book of Kells. The works on display illustrate how a widespread popular dissemination of Revivalist motifs and the philanthropic promotion of handicraft industries initiated an Arts and Crafts movement in Ireland.

On view is handcrafted Revivalist book art: a War of Independence republican prisoner’s journal hand-inked with Revivalist motifs, as well as an elaborate illuminated volume that celebrates the Ulster’s unionist leader Edward Carson, who presided over the division of the island in 1921. Especially moving, organizers note, are Harry Clarke’s modernist-medieval illustrations for the eight volumes of Ireland’s Memorial Records, listing the names of Ireland’s soon-to-be-forgotten 49,435 First World War dead—unionist and republican, Protestant and Catholic, from the North and South.

The exhibition is divided into eight sections that examine: the nineteenth-century antiquarian revivalism that provided the foundation of the movement; the role of patronage in establishing cottage craft industries; the transformation of Arts and Crafts figures from craftworkers to individualized artists; the relationship between Arts and Crafts and the Irish Literary Revival; the shared claims on Revivalist motifs in fractured public and political sphere; the Irish stained glass revival; Harry Clarke’s major contributions to modernism; with an epilogue on Boston College’s role within the movement in the 1950s. A digital guide to the exhibition was produced by Joseph Nugent (BC English Department associate professor) and students in his digital humanities course.

Exhibition Catalogue
The accompanying illustrated catalogue, edited by Vera Kreilkamp, includes essays by major Irish and North American scholars. They include Nicola Gordon Bowe, Marjorie Howes (BC English Department faculty member), Andrew Kuhn, Janice Helland, Marguerite Helmers and Kayla Rose, Paul Larmour, Diana Larsen, Nancy Netzer, Tomás Ó Carragáin, Fintan O’Toole, Kelly Sullivan, and Virginia Teehan. Declan Kiberd (professor of Irish Studies and English at Notre Dame) will launch the catalogue in Dublin on March 9, 2016 at Boston College-Ireland on St. Stephen’s Green.

Accompanying Free, Public Events
Tuesday, February 9, 4–5:15 p.m., Devlin Hall 101
Lecture: An Introduction: The Arts and Crafts Movement; Making It Irish
Paul Larmour (Queen’s University, Belfast), author of The Arts and Crafts Movement in Ireland, introduces the major themes and styles of Irish Arts and Crafts.

Saturday, February 27, 2–4 p.m., Devlin Hall 101 and McMullen Museum
Lecture: Culture and Society in Ireland, 1916: Contexts for the Arts and Crafts Movement
By Fintan O’Toole, a widely read columnist, literary editor for the Irish Times, and author of numerous books about Irish society. His A History of Ireland in 100 Objects (2013) is especially relevant to the exhibition’s focus on material culture. His lecture is followed by a gallery walk at the McMullen Museum.

Tuesday, April 5, 3–5:15 p.m, Burns Library, O’Brien Fine Print Room
Panel Discussion, Campus Walk: Irish Arts and Crafts Connections at Boston College
BC Vice Provost for Faculties Patricia DeLeeuw chairs a panel and leads a tour of stained glass windows at the University’s Burns and Bapst Libraries. Diana Larsen discusses the Richard King windows in Bapst. Maureen Meister (Tufts) describes BC’s early twentieth-century architecture in the context of the Arts and Crafts movement. Virginia Raguin (Holy Cross) examines the Irish An Túr Gloine studio and its contributions to the chapel at Newton Country Day School. Milda Richardson (Northeastern) discusses Maginnis and Walsh’s “collegiate Gothic” style in buildings at Boston College and Newton Country Day School.

Tuesday, April 12, 3–5:15 p.m., McMullen Museum and Devlin Hall 101
Tour and Lecture: The Illustration and Stained Glass of Harry Clarke
Kelly Sullivan (NYU) leads an informal tour of the Harry Clarke materials in the exhibitionand lectures on Harry Clarke’s stained glass and illustrations.

McMullen Museum of Art
The McMullen Museum is renowned for organizing interdisciplinary exhibitions that ask new questions and break new ground in the display and scholarship of the works on view. It serves as a dynamic educational resource for all of New England as well as the national and international community. The Museum mounts exhibitions of international scholarly importance from all periods and cultures of the history of art. In keeping with the University’s central teaching mission, the Museum’s exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues and related public programs. The McMullen Museum of Art was named in 1996 for the late BC benefactor, trustee, and art collector John J. McMullen and his wife Jacqueline McMullen.
The Arts and Crafts Movement: Making It Irish will be the last exhibition at the Museum in Devlin Hall; the McMullen will move across the street to 2101 Commonwealth Avenue in 2016, opening with Beyond Words: Illuminated Manuscripts in Boston Collections on September 12, 2016.
McMullen Museum Hours and Tours
Admission is free; handicapped accessible, open to the public. Located in Devlin Hall 110
on BC’s Chestnut Hill campus, 140 Commonwealth Avenue. Hours during this exhibition: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Closed on March 25 and 27, April 18, and May 30. Free docent-led tours every Sunday at 2 p.m., starting February 7. Contact:, 617.552.8587. Tours are also arranged upon request by calling 617.552.8587. For directions, parking, and program information,

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