A significant project to enhance and extend the entrance lobby and visitor welcome point at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, Turlough Park, Castlebar, is getting underway this week.
The €350,000 project by the Office of Public Works (OPW) will improve accessibility to the exhibition galleries; enhance the visitor experience at the entrance level of the Museum; introduce an improved visitor flow; and provide for better environmental controls in the galleries, which house Ireland’s National Folklife Collection.
The scheme was designed by award-winning Castlebar practice AXO Architects, who received RIAI Irish Architecture Awards in 2020 for their interpretation project at Kylemore Abbey. The practice is also currently working on similar projects at Strokestown Park House, The Blasket Centre in Kerry, Ceide Fields in Ballycastle, and The Custom House in Dublin.
Ballina based building contractor O’Malley & Sons Ltd. is carrying out the construction project with the works expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The Museum will stay open to the public for the duration of the works although the entrance point to the galleries will move to the side of the building to facilitate the redevelopment of the main entrance.
This project represents a significant capital investment in the site by the OPW as the Museum approaches a milestone anniversary of 20 years since its official opening on 10 September 2001.
The NMI - Country Life is the only branch of the National Museum of Ireland located outside Dublin and Ireland’s only National Cultural Institution supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media that is set in a rural location.
Since its opening, the Museum galleries have consistently welcomed more than 100,000 visitors per annum, making it one of the leading non-fee paying attractions in the wider region.
Welcoming the redevelopment project, Lynn Scarff, Director, National Museum of Ireland, said:
More than 2 million people have now crossed the threshold of our Museum in Co Mayo since it opened almost 20 years ago. These works to improve that entrance point and visitor experience are very much welcome as we continue to build on this achievement in our 20th anniversary year, particularly as we move out of the extremely challenging times we have all faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to our site partners at the OPW for this investment and to Mayo County Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media for their continued commitment to the NMI - Country Life which has developed into a key part of the tourism and heritage infrastructure of the region.”
Patrick O’Donovan T.D., Minister of State with responsibilities for the Office of Public Works said:
The OPW is delighted to be involved in these enhancement works at the National Museum of Ireland in Turlough Park which once completed will enhance the visitor experience while improving accessibility for all visitors to the exhibition galleries. It’s incredibly important that we build and develop visitor attractions to give all national and international tourists compelling reasons to explore Ireland and its wonderful attractions.”
The National Museum of Ireland is preparing a full programme of public events and activities to celebrate the 21st birthday of the Country Life branch in 2022.
The National Museum of Ireland - Country Life is a national cultural institution supported through the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media.
The visitor experience at NMI – Country Life is set across 40 acres and includes a Victorian Gothic mansion, the exhibition galleries, a café, gift shop, adventure playground, Greenway cycle path, sculptures, woodland, gardens and parkland.
The striking, modern museum building was developed by OPW Architectural Services on the former ancestral estate of the Fitzgerald family. The award-winning gardens and playground are maintained by Mayo County Council and the OPW.