At a busy road junction in Belfast city centre between May and Victoria Streets, the Open University building is situated on the site of the old grain market, and is also adjacent to Royal Courts of Justice and the city’s legal quarter. In 1919 the Northern Bank built their market branch on the site and the building remained in use for many years. By 2008, the bank had been empty for some years and the building was extensively gutted, refurbished and extended as five-storey office premises in a major redevelopment project with a new Law Society building, which is now the Open University’s nearest neighbour in Victoria Street.
The Open University purchased the building, which has grade-II listed status, and moved its Ireland headquarters there. The new centre was officially opened in April 2010 by Sir Reg Empey, MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning. It is Open University policy to spend a proportion of the capital cost of a new building project on art works and 22 significant pieces were purchased, including those works listed here.
The works purchased aim to represent the vibrancy of artistic endeavour in Ireland. As a leading cultural institution, the Open University in Ireland was concerned to purchase works (only a small proportion of which are represented here) in a variety of styles, media and genres, and especially to encourage new and emerging artists as well as honouring those who are more established figures in the art world.
Not all locations are open to the public. Please contact the gallery or collection for more information.