The original building was designed by James Owen of the Board of Works to provide education to all demoninations between 1857-63. Part residence and school, the building contained the home of the schoolmaster as well as teaching space and storage The loggia of the house (above left) mirrors the roundheaded windows of the classrooms.
The building is finished in limestone with Mountcharles sandstone for the stringcourings, cornices and window surrounds.
The building stood empty for many years before conversion into an art gallery. Founded as an Arts Centre in 1992, the Model Arts and Niland Gallery reopened its doors in 2000 after an extensive building and renovation project. Designed by Dublin architects McCullough Mulvin, the new facilities opened to great acclaim.
The architects have skilfully integrated the old building with new additions, combining the old stone, with cedar wood panelling, and concrete finished to look like wood. The character of the original building has not been lost yet at the same time the ambience is completely modern. The old courtyard has now been roofed by a series of skylights, which flood the whole building with light.