Irish High Crosses Exhibition 2010
30th June 2010
Irish High Crosses
EXHIBITION OF IRISH HIGH CROSS REPLICAS GOES ON DISPLAY
THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND
Dr. Pat Wallace, Director of the National Museum of Ireland is pleased to announce the opening of the new temporary exhibition entitled Irish High Crosses at The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks in Dublin.
This exhibition brings together casts of 6 plaster High Crosses along with a selection of Irish early Christian treasures. These High Crosses will give visitors an opportunity to examine and compare how High Crosses feature scenes which explained biblical stories to the faithful. They are among the greatest examples of how powerful religious communities supported and encouraged art in Early Christian Ireland.
The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a growing interest in heritage and archaeology across Europe. Enthusiasts began to make reproductions of ancient objects to educate audiences at home and abroad. Of all the reproductions made at this time, the most impressive are the plaster casts made of the Irish High Crosses.
These reproductions are in the possession of the National Museum of Ireland. They were on display in the National Museum Kildare Street for most of the 20th Century. The crosses portray some of the finest examples of Early Christian sculpture in Ireland, which range in date from the ninth to the twelfth centuries A.D. They include two crosses from Ahenny, Co. Tipperary, two from Monasterboice, Co. Louth and individual crosses from Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo and Dysart O'Dea, Co. Clare. The centrepiece is the 6.5-metre high West Cross from Monasterboice, the tallest high cross in Ireland.
In recent years representing Ireland at the Expo exhibition in Japan, its Museum casts of High Crosses continued a tradition of using reproductions to teach people about ancient times and places. Dr. Patrick Wallace, commented on the significance of these casts as highlighting the best examples of Christian sculpture in early medieval Europe, the Irish High Cross being both unique and iconic.
More than two million visitors saw them in Japan - Now they can be seen at Collins Barracks.
The Irish High Cross exhibition will be officially opened by Mary Hanafin T.D, Minister for Tourism, Culture &Sport on Wednesday 30th June at 5.15pm at The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks. The National expert on Irish High Crosses Dr Peter Harbison will speak on the evening. ADMISSION FREE.
For further press information please contact:
Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland
Tel: 01 – 6486429 Mobile 087 2075133
Notes to the Editor:
• In the 19th and 20th centuries there was a growing interest in heritage and archaeology across Europe. Enthusiasts began to make reproductions of ancient objects to educate audiences at home and abroad. Of all the Irish reproductions made at this time, the most impressive are the plaster-of-Paris casts made of the Irish High Crosses, copies of which were transported to England, America and Australia. Through the study of insular art in the 19th and 20th century grew an appreciation of the artistic and cultural potential of the inhabitants of Ireland. By looking into the past, and especially beyond the Anglo-Norman invasion, Irish people recognised a cultural heritage other than one linked to the British Empire which would become a source of inspiration for not only nationalists but scholars and artisans alike. The High Cross became a visual icon of Irishness, as did the harp, Irish wolfhound or round tower, to a school of thought that produced such poets such Yeats, sports men such as Michael Cusack and nationalists such as those involved in 1916.
• The High Crosses are among the greatest examples of how powerful religious communities supported and encouraged art in Early Christian Ireland. An insular Irish art form developed from Scandinavian and Continental influences and executed by highly skilled artists working in metal, velum and wood as well as stone. This period is now looked upon as The Golden Age of Early Irish Art. This is the only exhibition in which the full spectrum of the art work of Ireland’s Golden Age (8th-11th century) can be viewed in a single room. Many of techniques employed in The Golden Age schools of art have been lost and few can be emulated by modern stonemasons and metal smiths. It is therefore only through replication that the combined artistry exhibited on these National Treasures can be communicated to what has become a global audience.
• It is through the media of replicas that metalwork’s such as the Ardagh Chalice, Tara Brooch and the Cross of Cong can be positioned next to illuminated manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and occupying the same space as six of the most prised masonry feats of the Golden Age. The exhibition seeks to draw all strands of The Golden Age together in one room and following in a 100 year old museum tradition it employs replicas to communicate to the audience these three sister schools of craft which has produced some of the finest art known in West Europe.
• The Irish High Cross opens to the public from Thursday 1st July 2010 and will run as a Temporary Exhibition until Summer 2011
• The National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7 is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays. Closed Mondays and Bank Holidays. ADMISSION is FREE OF CHARGE. www.museum.ie