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National Museum of Ireland - Natural History set to close to facilitate extensive works required to protect and conserve the 168-year-old ‘Dead Zoo’ for future generations

An elephant, wrapped up and ready for moving. The National Museum of Ireland – Natural History’s last day open to the public is Sunday 1st September.

New ‘Dead Zoo Lab’ at NMI- Collins Barracks to make collection accessible during works.
The National Museum of Ireland- Natural History's
 last day open to the public is Sunday 1st September.

The Natural History Museum was constructed in 1856 and is often referred to as a Museum of a Museum. A magnificent Victorian artefact in its own right, it has changed very little in the last 168 years. Architects Fitzgerald Kavanagh & Partners have been appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works to lead the integrated design team for the refurbishment of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History. This appointment marks the beginning of the first phase of the design works which will see the building close this September to enable the full decant of specimens and commencement of investigative work which will inform the extensive refurbishment required.
This is a flagship project for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the National Development Plan and will be delivered by the National Museum of Ireland working in partnership with the Office of Public Works as the contracting authority and technical lead.

A full refurbishment of the building is necessary to ensure that the building is protected, conserved, and made accessible for future generations. The refurbishment project will also address long-standing issues with accessibility, enhance the museum experience and engage visitors with the Museum’s unique collection and role in addressing biodiversity loss and climate change.

In 2010, the Museum had to close the upper galleries due to their unsuitability for safe visitor access. In 2020, the Museum closed temporarily to facilitate the removal of the whale skeletons suspended from the roof and the packing and removal of 20,000 specimens, and in order to install an internal platform and environmental seal. This internal platform structure is protecting the building and its contents, while also enabling initial investigative works on the roof and informing the overall project scope more accurately.

Since the Museum reopened in 2022 only the ground floor has been open to the public. This next phase will see the complete closure of the NMI – Natural History to the public this September, to enable the remaining 10,000 specimens to be carefully wrapped up and removed from the building, followed by the development of the design and planning for the extensive conservation and refurbishment works.

The full programme of works, duration and total cost of the project will be determined by the investigative works and design phase.

For the period of closure, a new ‘Dead Zoo Lab’ will be created in the Riding School at the National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks site from Spring 2025, ensuring that the public can still visit some favourite specimens such as Spoticus the Giraffe and the Giant Irish Deer, and also some specimens that haven’t been on display for years such as the collection of Blaschka glass models of marine life.  
The Ground Floor of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History will remain open until Sunday, September 1st, 2024 (Inclusive). The National Museum of Ireland is open seven days a week and admission is free.

More details are available at our Natural History FAQ

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