The Origin of Displaying High Cross Reproductions
An international audience for High Crosses
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a growing awareness of national identity led to an increased interest in archaeology throughout Europe. Through displays at international fairs and the exchange of reproductions, museums could show the wealth of their respective nation’s archaeological heritage.
The Irish audience
In Ireland the Golden Age was highlighted as the pinnacle of artistic accomplishment. Of all the Irish reproductions manufactured at this time, the most impressive are the plaster casts of Irish high crosses, copies of which were exhibited in England, America and Australia. The 1853 Irish Industrial Exhibition in Dublin showcased Irish industry, art and crafts alongside those of other countries. Particular prominence was given in the main hall to sculpture, including a number of high crosses, both originals and casts. These were described as ‘fine monuments of the artistic skill and devoted piety of our Celtic ancestors, who imbibed a deep veneration for the cross as the symbol of Christianity’.
The National Museum of Ireland and High Cross replicas
The casts of the high crosses exhibited here were commissioned by Col. T. Plunkett, Director of the Museum. They were prominently displayed in the National Museum of Ireland in Kildare Street for much of the last century. In recent years the National Museum of Ireland sent these High Cross casts to Nagoya, Japan for exhibition at the World’s Fair.
Crosses represented in the exhibition