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Official launch of the Kennel Club gallery


Mr Ronnie Irving with Mrs Daphne Macdougall unveiling the plaque


On the 24th September 2003, the Kennel Club Picture Gallery was officially opened by Mrs Daphne MacDougall and is now open to the public, who can benefit from the many great items of fine art, sculpture and memorabilia on display.

Mrs MacDougall was joined by the Kennel Club Chairman Ronnie Irving in welcoming the assembled guests and Ronnie then gave a short speech on the Gallery’s development, from initial concept, to reality.

In his opening remarks Ronnie Irving said, "We hope that the Gallery will lead to many new and exciting opportunities for the Kennel Club. Firstly, we hope that the facilities and the library will act as a centre of learning for people interested in dogs and their development and secondly, and possibly even more importantly, Breed Clubs and Canine Societies will use the space for meetings and special celebrations. Our wish is to encourage everyone interested in dogs to come to the KC as we would like to make the Kennel Club more open and available to dog people and make people feel more involved with it."


Delighted

On unveiling the plaque that declared the gallery open, Mrs MacDougall commented that her late husband and past Chairman of the KC, John, would have been delighted with the Gallery and that she was similarly delighted and honoured to be involved with its opening.

The Kennel Club would like to welcome anyone interested in dogs or art to see for themselves the impressive new Gallery which is open on weekdays (except Wednesdays) without appointment. Admission charges are £3.50 per person, with special rates for groups of six or more.

GALLERY OFFICIAL OPENING SPEECH BY THE KC CHAIRMAN

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for attending the official opening of the Kennel Club Gallery today.

We believe that the Kennel Club’s Art Collection gives an important insight into the evolution of the pedigree dog, the breeders who brought about that evolution and the artists that recorded it, which include some very famous artists such as Maude Earl, FT Daws, John Emms, Frances Fairman and Arthur Wardle.

An eminent predecessor of mine as Chairman of the Kennel Club, the late John MacDougall, first envisaged the creation of a gallery, so it is appropriate that his widow Daphne is here to perform the official opening today. Knowing Daphne as I do, maybe it was as much her idea as John’s?!

Incidentally, we are grateful to Daphne for presenting to us a silver goblet owned by John – which was won in 1873, the year that the KC was founded, by a Pointer owned by one of the Kennel Club’s founder members J H Whitehouse.

John’s vision for the Gallery was of a permanent display that depicts important elements of the Kennel Club’s vast collection and also to ensure the long term survival, preservation and growth of this collection.

It has taken five years to research, design and build the Gallery, which couldn’t have happened if the refurbishment of Clarges Street had not provided the necessary space. I am proud to say that the costs of the Gallery have come in within budget and considerably below the amount originally sanctioned by the Members of the Kennel Club.

Real Studios who are represented here today, designed and managed the construction of the project and their past work has included the design of exhibitions for the Natural History Museum, British Library and the Imperial War Museum.

The Gallery is divided into two key areas. The first semi-permanent area will house the important art and artefacts from the KC’s extensive collection and the existence of this area actually prompted a very generous first donation from Ron Menaker, Chairman of the Board of the AKC, of a 19th century Bulldog painting.

The temporary section will enable the display of selected themes which will be rotated on a regular basis and Breed Clubs and Societies will be invited to contribute to these displays.

We therefore have the ability to separate the two spaces, so that ameeting could be held in private, whilst still allowing public access.

You will note that the first permanent exhibition focuses on the Bloodhound and this particular display will be on show until the 14th November. We would like to thank a number of people who have loaned items for this.

Future exhibitions include Crufts, between December and April, and Maud Earl, between May and August.


Facilities

Two new offices have also been created. One, the Picture Library, contains 40,000 images, many of which can be used to support the Gallery function and the second office will act as an art store which will also help with the conservation of the art. You will also note that there are laptops built into the tables, which will allow users to access information on the art collection and also log on to the KC’s website.

We hope that the Gallery will lead to many new and exciting opportunities for the Kennel Club. Firstly, we hope that the facilities and the library will act as a centre of learning for people interested in dogs and their development and secondly, and possibly even more importantly, Breed Clubs and Canine Societies will use the space for meetings and special celebrations.

Our wish is to encourage everyone interested in dogs to come to the KC as we would like to make the Kennel Club more open and available to dog people and make people feel more involved with it.

I cannot close without thanking a number of people who have played an important part in the development of the Gallery. Real Studios for their design and management of the project, John Bainbridge, KC Member, who used his professional skills to oversee the project from the Club’s point of view and Nick Waters for all his help in the production of the catalogue. Thanks also go to Paul MacBeth, whose assistance in hanging the artwork is greatly appreciated and the Library & Gallery Panel for all their planning work and input.

That Panel includes Ruth Barbour, Giles Clarke our consultant, Caroline Kisko, KC Secretary, and Valerie Foss, Chair of the Library & Gallery Panel, whose enthusiasm knows no bounds, if at times a little exhausting for the rest of us! She is now known by the General Committee as "Valerie from the Gallery!"

Final thanks go to Sarah Tyrell, the Library and Collections Manager, Luisa Pontello her assistant and Sam Gregory, the Picture Librarian, along with the KC staff in general.

I would now ask Daphne MacDougall to accompany me to the plaque to perform the official opening.