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RUA event at Ulster Museum | © Courtesy of Tourism NI
RUA event at Ulster Museum | © Courtesy of Tourism NI
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Northern Ireland's 10 Best Contemporary Art Galleries

Picture of Niall McGrade
Updated: 6 September 2017
Northern Ireland’s cultural presence has done nothing but grow in recent years, with artists and galleries springing up all over the country. Belfast is not only the cultural capital of Northern Ireland, but is fast becoming one of the artistic capitals of both Britain and Ireland. A few galleries outside of Belfast have snuck onto the list, which is testament to the spread of culture throughout the country.
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Belfast’s Metropolitan Arts Centre, The MAC, opened in 2012 and has fast become one of Northern Ireland’s foremost arts venues. It’s a veritable complex of culture, with its six stories housing three art galleries, two theatres, and several studio spaces. Its excellence extends to the architecture, too. The building was an entry for the International Open Design Competition, and Belfast-based architectural practice Hall McKnight won the commission. Admission is free, and the space is open seven days a week, so there’s no reason not to go.

10 Exchange Street West, Belfast, Northern Ireland, +44 28 90235053

The MAC | © Courtesy of Tourism NI

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CCA Derry

The CCA, or the Centre for Contemporary Art, developed out of the earlier Context Gallery in the Playhouse. CCA’s current space opened in 2012, and since then, it has been exhibiting work from Northern Ireland’s finest emerging talents and collaborating with international artistic endeavours. The CCA is also a member of Plus Tate, a network of institutions affiliated with the Tate galleries.

10-12 Artillery St, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, +44 28 7137 3538

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In 2003, a group of local artists formed DADA, Derry’s Artists for Derry’s Art. They set out to create a space dedicated to Irish and international art, and in 2005 opened Void, their first gallery space, in the basement of the Old City Shirt Factory. After 10 years, the gallery space expanded into the first floor as well, where it has continued to showcase the best work from the best artists, showing as many as five exhibitions a year.

100 Patrick St, Londonderry, Northern Ireland, +44 28 7130 8080

The Void Gallery | © Courtesy of Tourism NI

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Catalyst Arts

Catalyst Arts was founded in 1993, and has worn a lot of hats since then. Artists have transformed the space into a cinema, a dining hall, and even an agnostic chapel. Catalyst’s constitution dictates that it be staffed by volunteers, and its directors are also volunteers. Catalyst challenges the normally hierarchical gallery structure and directorships last no longer than two years, to ensure that the gallery’s content never grows stale.

5 College Ct, Belfast, Northern Ireland, +44 28 9031 3303

Catalyst facade | Luxtera/Flickr

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