The National Museum of Ireland welcomed Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, to its Decorative Arts & History site at Collins Barracks yesterday (Monday, 27 September) for the official launch of its newest exhibition Down to Earth - Exploring Ireland's Geology.
The exhibition looks at the geology of Ireland and how scientists have developed their understanding of our planet over the last 175 years.
Originally scheduled for opening in November 2020, the exhibition was developed in partnership with Geological Survey Ireland to celebrate its 175th anniversary.
The exhibition will engage audiences with the long and proud history of geology in Ireland, explore how geology is relevant to everyday life, demonstrate the central role both rock and minerals play in how we interact with the world and inform visitors about the effects of climate change.
The history of exploring Ireland’s mineral wealth started in the 1700s and the excavations from these explorations formed the founding collections of what is now the National Museum of Ireland. The Museum holds a vast geological collection yet little of it has been seen by Museum audiences in over 50 years.
This partnership with Geological Survey Ireland is bringing these precious samples back into public display and includes real mineral specimens collected in nineteenth-century Ireland and observed through the lens of modern science.
The exhibition itself is centred on a large floor map of Ireland, showing the variety of rocks and other deposits that determine our landscape and how in turn this dictates everything from potential construction materials to the properties of our drinking water. Visitors can even travel over the ocean from a Geological Survey Ireland Research Vessel’s deck to see how the seabed is mapped, discovering shipwrecks and the edges of our continent.
The exhibition also contains many objects from our everyday lives that have a very specific and meaningful link to geology. Visitors will be able to find out first-hand about the various materials from the earth that go into the construction of the daily products that we take for granted.
Visitors will also have an opportunity to understand better the various hazards like rising sea levels, intense and frequent storms, earthquakes and water shortages, many of which are responses to the effects of climate change that we already see in Ireland. Modern geology is focused on understanding natural processes and resources, and visitors will find out about new ways in which we must manage for future needs and address these hazards caused by climate change.
Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD described the exhibition as fascinating and timely.
Geologists are in a unique position to understand the scale and significance of climate change and its effects over time. Our geologists also play an important role in helping us find solutions, including mapping the seabed which will help us prepare for the development of offshore wind. This exhibition is an example of the wonderful work Geological Survey Ireland does to help us understand our natural history, and how it shapes our lives.”
Director of the National Museum of Ireland Lynn Scarff said:
This exhibition makes tangible the rich geological history of our island as well as how that history informs and enables current scientific work. We know that a greater understanding of our planet is crucial to our ability to tackle rapid climate change. However beyond the data we need to engage hearts and minds on the rich natural history and biodiversity of our island, Down to Earth offers NMI an opportunity to partner with our best geological scientists and engage audiences with our exquisite geological collection.”
Chairperson of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland Catherine Heaney said:
Down to Earth is a visually gripping and interactive exhibition that brings Irish geoscience into the public realm in a new and exciting way. The emphasis on everyday objects was fascinating and will allow visitors to interrupt the world around them in an entirely different lens to understand the true value and effort of our everyday lives. The museum has a long and proud history of geological collection, and we are delighted to have partnered with Geological Survey Ireland on the project.”
Director of Geological Survey Ireland Koen Verbruggen said:
We are delighted to see this exhibition come to fruition. It is a wonderful way to acknowledge 175 years of work by Geological Survey Ireland to understand our fascinating geology and explain the valuable work we continue to do. In particular the exhibit shows the role of Geology and Geological Survey Ireland in response to climate change effects in Ireland, the biggest challenge facing our planet.”
Down to Earth opens at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks today (27 September) and will run for 18 months. Admission is free.