In 2005 staff at the Museum and students at St Catherine’s Traveller Education Centre, Castlebar, Co. Mayo launched a collaborative project.
Students at the Centre were invited to make two scale models of traditional cottages based on architectural drawings from the Museum’s archive. These model cottages were then to form part of Whitewash & Thatch, a temporary exhibition of architectural drawings from the 1930s and 1940s.
The original cottages, upon which the architectural drawings were based, were located on opposite sides of the country; one in the west which was to be made by the men's group, the other, which the women's group took responsibility for, lay just outside Dublin. Both buildings dated from the early 1900s.
Advice on model making was kindly provided by Gordon Johnson, and Pat Broderick assisted with the sugán rope-making workshop. Mike Smith and Breda Murphy from the Mayo Arts Squad guided the students through the process of learning the necessary skills required and a five-month timeframe was scheduled to complete both cottages.
The cottages incorporated wooden windows and doors and were plastered and thatched in the traditional way representing a faithful reconstruction of the original buildings.
Along with selected artefacts, the model cottages greatly enhanced what was essentially an exhibition of one-dimensional, albeit beautifully executed, drawings and have travelled with the Whitewash & Thatch exhibition to various venues around the country.