News & Media Centre

Re-opening of the Natural History Museum

Launch to mark the re-opening

The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
Merrion Street
Dublin 2

On Thursday 29th April 2010

(Press Call Wednesday 28th April 1.00pm including Minister Mary Hanafin and boys from 5th class primary school)

Dr. Patrick Wallace, Director of the National Museum of Ireland is pleased to announce the reopening of National Museum of Ireland – Natural History.

The Natural History Museum was built by the Royal Dublin Society and opened its doors for the first time in 1857. Over 150 years later it has changed little and is known to generations as the ‘Dead Zoo’ a true museum of a museum.

In the words of Keeper of the Natural History Museum Nigel Monaghan “It will be great to hear the sound of children again after almost three years. Staff have been working hard to get the museum ready for visitors and the galleries are positively sparkling. Nothing has been lost and a number of improvements have been made without affecting the historic interior much loved by our visitors”

Following the collapse of a section of the stone staircase in July 2007 the building was closed. After safety testing of the remaining stairs staff were allowed to return to offices in November 2007. A decision was taken at that time by the NMI, OPW and DAST to proceed with the major refurbishment plan. While that plan was being developed the change in state finances meant that the sum (€15 million) allocated under the NDP was no longer available. The decision was taken in early 2009 to carry out basic works to allow the building to reopen, something that was completed in April 2010.

The above recent conservation work has improved access for visitors and also allowed our Education and Outreach Department to develop a new resource areas for all visitors to the Museum. Two new hands-on areas have been developed, the Discovery Zone and a Reading Area. These two areas will give the visitor an opportunity to become hands on with some objects and to read and discover more about Irish Natural History and the world of Science. The exhibits cover the animals of Ireland at ground level and mammals of the world on the first floor. Familiar favourites include the skeletons of 11,000 year old giant deer, Spoticus the giraffe and whale skeletons suspended from the roof. A new circuit will allow access to the restored stone staircase and make it possible to experience the original entrance to the museum and see exhibits in a sequence familiar to Victorian visitors. The traditional exhibition style and furnishings are unchanged.

The Museum will be officially re-opened by Minister for Tourism, Culture & Sport

Mary Hanafin on Wednesday 28th April at 2.00pm at The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History, Merrion Street, Dublin 2

For further press information please contact:

Maureen Gaule - Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland

Tel: 01 - 648 6429 Mob: 087 2075133

E-Mail: mgaule@museum.ie

Notes to Editor

  • A photo call for the media will take place at 1.00pm on Wednesday 28th April 2010
  • Media are invited to join the Minister on a walk through the Museum at 1.30pm.
  • Images available on request.
  • 4th/5th Class Children from Star of the Sea B.N.S Sandy mount will be on site experiencing the Education Zones and are available for photography.
  • Minister re-opens the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History at 2.00pm on Wednesday 28th April 2008
  • Public access is from 10.00am on Thursday 29th April 2010
  • Group visitors should book in advance through bookings@museum.ie or 01 6486453. Please be aware the museum is extremely popular and many group bookings have already taken.

Admission is free to all Exhibitions.

Museum Opening Times Tuesday – Saturday 10.00am -5.00pm

Sunday 2.00pm – 5.00pm

Closed Monday (Incl Bank Holidays)

Detailed background Information

1. The Dead Zoo exhibition at Collins Barracks closed on Sunday 11 April 2010 at 5pm. As a temporary exhibition it attracted 180,000 visitors in a single year of operation.

2. The Natural History Museum is open for visitors at Merrion Street from 10am on Thursday 29 April 2010, admission free, normal hours (10-5 Tue-Sat, Sundays 2-5, Closed Mondays).

3. The offer at Merrion Street is still in the traditional style and has changed little; the National Museum of Ireland sees its work here as conservation exercise.

4. Exhibits include the Irish fauna at ground floor level, featuring regular favourites – giant deer, mammals, birds, insects

5. Exhibits at first floor level feature mammals from around the world – giraffe, elephant, polar bear

6. New features include

  • Ramp access to front door to facilitate wheelchair users and families with buggies
  • Wheelchair accessible toilet facilities
  • Improved visitor safety (smoke partitions, restored staircase now fully safety certified, overhead glass at ceiling level now has a safety net)
  • An education space at ground floor level for activities and hands-on access to animals for visitors
  • New seating at several locations within the building
  • A reading area at first floor level
  • Improved lighting at ground floor level
  • Exclusion of ultraviolet light to prevent animals fading in sunlight

7. Continuing project to restore exhibits, commenced in 2003 has seen most mammals cleaned and restored and is now working through the bird exhibits.

8. There is a 2-year plan (post-opening) to improve visitor experience through new labelling of displays, informative texts, incorporation of Irish language, audio guides

9. A 2-year plan (post-opening) to improve public access to collections not on exhibition at present, through online technologies

10. A medium term target to pursue implementation of the full conservation of the building, subject to funding:

  • To provide lift access to all floors as part of an access strategy to comply with the Disability Act 2005
  • To restore public access to balcony levels that has been ruled out at present following a full safety audit of the building.
  • To pursue funding for the completion of the draft scheme for the building that was granted funding of €15 million under the National Development Plan but subsequently suspended in 2008 due to the state of the national finances.

11. Until further building improvements take place the balcony levels will not be accessible to visitors. This is for safety reasons related to the lack of provision of emergency exit routes at higher levels and the design of the balcony railing.

Available for interview on Wednesday 28th April 2010 –

  • Dr. Patrick Wallace – Director – National Museum of Ireland
  • Nigel Monaghan – Keeper – National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
  • Catherine McGuinness – Education Assistant – National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
 
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