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04 November, 2021: Wonder Cabinet at the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History lands prestigious ICAD design award

The interactive space is inspired by the Victorian ‘cabinets of curiosity’ at the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History has been awarded a major design award by ICAD.

Officially opened in July 2019 the ‘Wonder Cabinet’ at the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History in Dublin has won an Institute of Creative Advertising and Design (ICAD) Gold award for graphic design. The award was given to Detail. Design Studio for their graphic design work used in the Wonder Cabinet.   
The Wonder Cabinet was designed by AP+E (architects) and constructed by Chris White from Acrewood. The graphic design work was by Detail. Design Studio. The award was for the interpretive design work by Detail that enables visitors to identify the Wonder Cabinet, read key information and understand what information relates to which specimens. 
Inspired by the ‘cabinets of curiosity’ which paved the way for the Victorian craze for museums, the Wonder Cabinet was conceived by AP+E (architects) and is one of a kind in Ireland.  It was commissioned by the National Museum of Ireland’s Education and Outreach team to be a new interactive space in the NMI - Natural History. The theme of the displays is ‘Predator and Prey’ and some highlights include a 30,000-year-old Spotted Hyena jaw from an Irish cave, a 10,500-year-old Giant Irish Deer antler, and a Loggerhead Turtle found on a beach in Co Galway. The aim of the project was to design a space that would showcase these specimens, explore the theme and appeal to the museum’s many visitors, especially schools and families. The education team particularly wanted the design to enable visitors to discover in a playful way, the uniqueness of the natural history specimens.
Rossi McAuley, President of ICAD stated on granting the award
 “The ICAD awards are recognised as the highest achievement of creative excellence in Advertising and Design in Ireland. The Institute awards its coveted ICAD Bell across three levels defined as, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Without exception an ICAD gold is the pinnacle of creative excellence. In order for a project to win gold at ICAD, the jury assembled must find that the project in question be; “Exceptional in idea, execution, and quality; memorable work that defines or redefines its field and will help gain renown for Irish creativity internationally”. ICAD golds are exceptionally rare and in 2020 there were only 2 recipients in Design, one of whom was Detail. Design Studio for their work on the “Wonder Cabinet” -an acknowledgment and recognition from both this institute and our collective industry that this project met the highest of standards required to deserve our premier award.
Naoise Ó Conbhubhair, Design Director from Detail. said;It was an honour for Detail. Design Studio to develop the visual identity and graphic system for the beautiful Wonder Cabinet / Caibinéad na nIontas at the iconic NMI - Natural History. We took great pride in crafting a design solution that is sympathetic to the historic surroundings, uses sustainably sourced materials and adhering to strict conservation guidelines. We wanted to develop a fresh new space for the next generation of young visitors to learn and engage with the museum. It was a privilege to work collaboratively with the talented team of architects, cabinet makers and the museum's own team who collectively brought this wonderful project to life.’
AP+E Architects worked with the Museum on the design of the Wonder Cabinet. Architects, Laurence Lord and Jeffrey Bolhuis, said; “For us as architects it was a pleasure to work collaboratively on the design of this amazing project with the team from NMI, Detail and Acrewood. We are delighted that ICAD have recognised the incredible graphic design work of Detail, which has been central to the experience and success of the Wonder Cabinet.'
Lorraine Comer, Head of Education at the National Museum of Ireland, explained: ”The work that Detail. Design Studio undertook with the Museum on the design of and signage for the Wonder Cabinet was exceptional. The Wonder Cabinet was conceived by the Education Department to facilitate a range of learning opportunities while also serving to display key specimens from the Natural History collections. Detail. Design ensured that what they created was beautiful and functional where the needs of the public in terms of accessibility were consistently reflected in their designs. They also demonstrated their ability to collaborate as they worked closely with the Museum’s Education team in the development of design ideas.’
The Wonder Cabinet was developed with support from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Whilst the National Museum of Ireland - Natural History is currently closed for roof repairs people can virtually explore the museum using the 3D viewer on  and can discover more about the Wonder Cabinet’s specimens and projects here: Wonder Cabinet Webpage
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Notes to editor
Information about the Wonder Cabinet

Who are ICAD?
A non-profit, membership led body, the Institute of Creative Advertising and Design (ICAD) is made up of the best creatives in Ireland. Their primary aim is to support creative excellence in Irish advertising and design and those working within the industry.
What design elements of the Wonder Cabinet project won an award?
Derived from the theme ‘Predator & Prey’, Detail. created an identity centred on a custom logotype. This was supported by a graphic system of geometric teeth unique to each specimen and a set of bespoke illustrations and colourways. In developing the identity and wayfinding system for the cabinet they worked closely with the museum and the architects to craft a design that is sympathetic to the historic surroundings, using sustainably sourced materials and adhering to strict accessibility, safety and planning guidelines.
Who are Detail. Design Studio?
For more information about the designers please see,
What’s featured in the Wonder Cabinet?
The Wonder Cabinet looks at the theme, Predator and Prey and amongst its features are:
  • Spotted Hyena taxidermy mount – Today, these animals live in the wild in Africa, but fossils have been found in Ireland, dating back about 30,000 years.
  • Spotted Hyena fossil jawbone – See up close a real fossil that was found in a cave in Ireland.
  • Spotted Hyena skull (replica) – Touch a hyena skull and see its sharp teeth and distinctive powerful jawbone. 
  • Giant Irish Deer (Megaloceros giganteus) – These giant deer went extinct in Ireland over 10,500 years ago and you can see their real fossil skeletons on display at the Museum in the Irish Room. The Wonder Cabinet will have a real fossil antler that is thousands of years old and you can touch it.
  • Loggerhead Turtle – This adult turtle was found on a beach in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway. These turtles eat animals, such as the moon jellyfish, while they migrate through the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Peregrine Falcon – This bird of prey is the fastest living thing on Earth and can pick up speeds of over 250km per hour while chasing its prey. Visit the Wonder Cabinet to check out what the peregrine is chasing!
  • Marine Handling Area – Touch a giant fossil shark tooth, a seal skull and a shark jaw at the Wonder Cabinet (Megalodon shark tooth, common seal skull (replica) and tiger shark jaw – all replicas)
  • People will be able to see up close some wild predators and prey that live in Ireland such as a sleeping fox, a hungry stoat, a mouse in hiding and a brown rat. In the Wonder Cabinet people can learn why hares live above ground and rabbits underground.
About the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History
The Natural History Museum was built in 1856 to house the Royal Dublin Society’s growing collections, which had expanded continually since the late eighteenth century. The building is a ‘cabinet-style’ museum designed to showcase a wide-ranging and comprehensive zoological collection and has changed little in over a century. Often described as a ‘museum of a museum’, its 10,000 exhibits provide a glimpse of the natural world that has delighted generations of visitors since the doors opened in 1857.
The building and its displays reflect many aspects of the history and development of the collections. It was originally built as an extension to Leinster House, where the Royal Dublin Society was based for much of the 19th Century.
Under Project 2040 and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s capital development plan for 2018-2027, the Government announced its intention to invest €85millon in NMI facilities in the next 10 years. This investment, which was the largest single capital investment outlined in the plan, will be used for the redevelopment of the Natural History Museum (2018 – 2021) and the Museum of Archaeology on Kildare Street (2022 – 2027).
The National Museum of Ireland has 4 public sites, and a Collections Repository: 
  • National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology (Kildare Street, Dublin)
  • National Museum of Ireland – Natural History (Merrion Street, Dublin)
  • National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History (Collins Barracks, Dublin)
  • National Museum of Ireland – Country Life (Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo)
  • Collections Resource Centre (Swords(Research access by appointment only)
 Admission to the National Museum of Ireland and its Exhibitions is Free. Museum Shop on site.
 Opening Hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sunday and Monday 1.00pm – 5.00pm
 Visit  for details of ongoing events/activities.  

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