Ruth McHugh originally graduated from NCAD with a degree in Fine Art Painting. On completion she went on to train in all technical aspects of art exhibition at the Crawford Gallery in Cork where she was appointed Administrator of SADE 87 (Sculpture and Drawing Exhibition).
In 1987 she returned to Galway and became a founding member of Artspace Studios where she acted as exhibitions officer from 1987 until 1994.
In 1994 she was awarded a residential studio at the Firestation Artists Studios where she undertook a 2 year course in all aspects of sculptural fabrication. Thereafter she was employed at the Artists Association of Ireland and The Irish Film and Television Academy.
From 1997 to 2007 she worked in various capacities at the Royal Hibernian Academy. This was an extraordinary period at the Academy with the new director Patrick Murphy. The works of major international artists Bruce Nauman, James Coleman, Michael Borremans, Felix Gonzalez Torres, Gerhardt Richter, Marlene Dumas, Toba Khedoori, Bill Viola, William Kentridge, John Gerrard amongst others were exhibited and Futures provided a new platform for emerging, contemporary Irish artists. McHugh simultaneously took on the role of Administrator at the Hallward Gallery as well as facilitating workshops for adults and children at the National Gallery and the RHA.
In 2006 she undertook a Masters Degree in Public Culture at IADT for which she investigated the Art Fair as Public Culture. She subsequently undertook a research Masters Degree at IADT on the subject of Visual Arts Development and Cultural Tourism: The Case of Leitrim – completed in 2012.
Throughout this period she has developed her own practice (sculpture, painting, photography) a high point being the selection by Aidan Dunne to exhibit in an exhibition of Irish Artists Other Visions (2006) at Purdy Hicks Gallery in London. She exhibits with the Peppercanister Gallery in Dublin and has had numerous solo exhibitions including the Galway Arts Festival.