Written answers

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

State Art Collection

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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224. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the current market value of the State art collection as an entire collection; if he will provide a schedule of the items and value of items that are unaccounted for, lost, missing , or all three, as of 11 December 2020 (details supplied); the number of items that are on display outside the State; and the number of thefts that have been reported from the entire collection over the past ten years to date in 2020. [43560/20]

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
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The State Art Collection comprises artworks dating from 17th century to the present day. The OPW does not undertake market valuations on the entire collection. Valuations are undertaken on individual items for insurance purposes when such items are placed on loan to third parties or external exhibitions. The State Art Collection is measured by its cultural and heritage significance not its financial value and therefore fluctuations in the art market do not alter its value.

The OPW Art Management Office undertakes routine surveys of artworks for which it has responsibility in State owned buildings. These audits take place through a programme of spot-checks and they are conducted on a regular basis as part of the day-to-day management of the collection. Artworks are on display in 480 locations around the country and over 90% of the collection is out on loan. Every artwork in the State Art Collection is given a unique number and photographed before it is placed on loan. The data obtained from the collection surveys is registered on an art database.

In 2020, the Art Management Office commenced a major collection management project to improve its control systems. This project involved migration of data and images from a database that has been in use since the mid-1990s to a new collection management system. Phase 1 of the migration project has been completed recently and Phase 2 is currently underway. Phase 2 involves extensive checking of over 17,000 records transferred from the old database. Each record contains an image of the artwork and multiple data fields, including location. All fields in each record have to be checked to ensure that the information catalogued on every artwork is correct and up-to-date. Until this process has been completed, it is not possible to provide an accurate schedule of items. Phase 2 is due for completion in June 2021.

Since the early 1990s, the OPW has not had responsibility for placing artworks on display in State owned properties abroad. However, some 600 artworks acquired by the OPW prior to this period remain on loan to 41 embassies abroad. A small number of these artworks have been placed on loan in recent years.

As the database project is underway currently and checking is not complete, it is not possible to provide accurate information dating back to 2010 at present. It can be confirmed that no thefts of artworks have been reported to the Art Management Office from January 2020 to-date.


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