The National College of Art and Design occupies a unique position in art and design education in Ireland. It offers the largest range of art and design degrees in the state at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
In the past many of the most important Irish artists, designers and art teachers have studied or taught in the College. It has long been the central and most important art and design educational institution in Ireland.
The origins of the College date from 1746 when Robert West had a private drawing school in George's Lane, Dublin, which was taken over by the Dublin Society (later the RDS). Throughout the eighteenth century there were three schools: Figure Drawing, Landscape and Ornamental Drawing and Architectural Drawing. The School of Modelling was added in 1811. From 1854 the institution was controlled by the Department of Science and Art, London. In 1877 it was renamed The Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. The Department of Education took control in 1924, and twelve years later it became the National College of Art. In 1971 the National College of Art and Design was established by act of an tOireachtas and is now governed by a board (An Bord) appointed by the Minister for Education and Science.
The College's campus is situated in Thomas Street, in the historic Liberties area of Dublin. In 1998 the College opened its new wing, the School of Design for Industry, and now houses all of its activities on the Thomas Street campus.
In recent years, the College has conferred honorary associateships on Sybil Connolly, Dr. James White, Patrick Scott, Jan de Fouw, Sonja Landweer, Conor Fallon, Dr. Seamus Buachalla, Leonora Curry, Paul Costelloe, Prof. Anne Crookshank, Charles J. Haughey, Dr. Patrick Moriarty, Dr. Edward Walsh, Professor George Dawson, Michael Farrell, Paul Hogan, William Walsh, Mealla C. Gibbons, Bro. Joseph McNally, Juan O'Callahan and Anthony Cronin.
The College has 1,000 full time students and a further six hundred students who are taking evening courses. Those who know the College, and those who have attended the Open Day, the annual exhibitions and fashion show, will be aware of the very high standards that are achieved.
The College has four Schools; Design, Education, Fine Art and Visual Culture.