The National Museum of Ireland is inviting the public to reflect on the theme of resilience through a new online gallery, which has been curated in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The online gallery is now on display on the Museum’s recently refreshed website www.museum.ie and features a diverse range of objects and specimens from the Museum’s collection, from the historic to the more contemporary, that demonstrate our collective resilience in the face of challenges, both from an Irish and global perspective.
The National Museum of Ireland is Ireland’s largest cultural institution and its four sites are closed as part of the Government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus. Given that the Museum’s exhibitions are not currently accessible, the collections team at the Museum curated ‘Reflections on Resilience’, an online gallery, to allow audiences to connect with our national collection and to take solace and inspiration from the stories of these objects as the coronavirus crisis continues.
Some of the objects and specimens included in the online gallery are iconic such as the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the flag of the 'Irish Republic' that was flown over the GPO in 1916, while others are less well known but equally as illustrative of resilience, such as a Mesolithic Fish Trap which was used by the earliest settlers in Ireland, and a photograph album depicting the life of Dublin man, Albert Sutton, who served in the Royal Air Force.
As a mark of solidarity and a reminder that the world has always been interconnected, the online gallery features a number of objects that have links to some of the countries which have been hardest hit by the coronavirus, such as The Fonthill Vase, the earliest documented piece of Chinese porcelain to have reached Europe, and considered to be an object of major international importance.
There are also a number of examples from the more recent past, such as Panti Bliss’ Noble Call speech dress and a knitted repeal banner featuring the Repeal the 8th artwork of Irish street artist, Maser, which was created as part of the Yes Campaign in the lead up to the May 2018 referendum on the question of repealing the 8th Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland Act 1983.
Some of the other items featured in the online gallery are:
Jellyfish and sea sponges, which have been on earth for over 500 million years long before dinosaurs roamed the planet;
Birds such as the white-tailed eagle, golden eagle and peregrine falcon which survived near extinction;
Precious relics such as the Bell of St Patrick and its Shrine, the latter dating to circa 1100 AD and the former having reputedly belonged to St Patrick;
Artefacts from the Bronze Age such as The Coggalbeg Hoard – gold dated 2300 – 2000 BC;
Leabhar na hAiséirghe, one of the most significant 20th century works of visual art of the Celtic Revival;
A Wooden plank with Viking Ship and Weathervane graffiti, which survived against all odds;
‘A New Skin’ by internationally renowned glass artist, Alison Lowry which she created in collaboration with Úna Burke, as a statement about the trauma caused by sexual assault.
And the long ‘maligned’ bodhrán, described as ‘The Black Sheep of Traditional Irish Instruments’, which, after many years, earned its place as one of our notable Irish traditional instruments, amongst others.
The Museum is also inviting members of the public to reflect on objects in their own lives or homes that they consider to be a symbol of resilience, and to post a photo of those items on Twitter using the hashtag #ReflectionsonResilience. This initiative will run in tandem with the contemporary collecting strategy of the National Museum of Ireland that aims to collect the material culture of significant contemporary events in recent Irish life since the year 2000.
Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff said:
As a society, as families and as individuals we have had to draw upon our own wellsprings of resilience during this coronavirus crisis. Human resilience is as old as history itself and after examining our own collection through the lens of our new reality, we’ve brought together a selection of objects and specimens that we hope will offer people an opportunity to reflect on our resilience, not only as individuals and a nation, but also as a global community.
Head of Collections and Learning, Dr Audrey Whitty said:
People, and indeed all living things, have always responded to the environment they find themselves in by adapting and learning how to survive in it – just like we are today during the coronavirus crisis. There are countless examples of this throughout our collection and we hope that ‘Reflections in Resilience’ will give people pause for thought during these challenging times. As a country, and a planet, we have overcome great obstacles in the past and we will do so again.”
Some of the items featured in ‘Reflections on Resilience’ are on display in the National Museum of Ireland, but many have been sourced from its vast reserve collections, not physically open to the general public. Additional objects and specimens will continue to be added to the online gallery as Covid-19 restrictions remain in place and the doors of the National Museum of Ireland remain closed to the public.
View the online gallery now