Natural History Museum

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This topic contains 69 replies, has 29 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 8 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #709480

    GregF
    Participant

    Just heard that a stair has collapsed at the Natural History Museum!

    Early reports says it was a stone staircase!

    Several people have been injured but no one has been killed.

  • #789992

    Paul Clerkin
    Keymaster

    that’s the main on from ground floor to next level?

  • #789993

    Anonymous

    the interviewee on the news stated that it was ‘one which isnt used much’…..

  • #789994

    Anonymous

    Afaik it was a staff staircase, not used by the public. Don’t know the location/materials/age/etc.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2007/0705/museum.html

    By the by, it caused the cancellation of a Metro North press conference due for this morning in Leinster House.

  • #789995

    Anonymous

    The botchers no doubt will be in to repair it ….with reinforced steel, concrete, pebble dash etc…also at the same time knocking lumps outta the existing walls and ceilings etc…

  • #789996

    Anonymous

    @gregf wrote:

    The botchers no doubt will be in to repair it ….with reinforced steel, concrete, pebble dash etc…also at the same time knocking lumps outta the existing walls and ceilings etc…

    I hope nobody is too badly hurt.

    The Nat Hist has a very special place in my affections – and I’m sure those of generations of Dublin gurriers like me. I actually called by today because I heard that there had been a fire (hence all the fire brigades) and I was horrified at the implications.

    It (and the other free museums and galleries of the city, particularly the Municipal in Parnell Square) is immensely important in my opinion – one of the few places that would certainly get me to chain myself to the railings if any attempt was made to molest it. I think it is probably one of the most charming and warm museums in the world.

    I think this is generally recognised however and I expect that Pat wallace will ensure it is sensitively repaired.

    On the issue of free access – and in fairness to whoever is responsible for these matters – it is notable that all these facilities are free in Ireland – I suspect that this is not usually the case elsewhere.

    Congrats to someone 😀

  • #789997

    Anonymous

    Two people remain in a serious condition in hospital after they were injured when a staircase collapsed inside the Natural History Museum in Dublin yesterday.

    The museum will remain closed while a safety audit is carried out.

    11 people were injured when the stone staircase collapsed at around 11.30am yesterday morning.
    The staircase was in a part of the building that is not normally used by members of the public.

  • #789998

    Anonymous

    I think that thats the stairs that was once the main staircase. Once upon a time the main entrance to the building was at the other end of the building and then that entrance was cut off for some reason and the other end was opened up as the main entrance. Thats why all the animals have their arses facing us when we go up the stairs.

    That was on a programme about the natural history musuem that was on RTE radio a while back. Its a really interesting building with a very interesting history.

  • #789999

    Paul Clerkin
    Keymaster
  • #790000

    Anonymous

    @paul Clerkin wrote:

    Plans for Natural History Museum
    http://www.quilliganarchitects.ie/work/civic/museum-of-natural-history/

    Why in God’s name can’t they just reinforce the stairs and leave the place alone? Seriously? It was the best museum in Dublin and the best Natural History Museum I’ve ever been to. It hasn’t got the resources to compete with London or New York in terms of screaming children and inane button-pressing gimmicks, so why doesn’t it just remain the utterly unique place that it was? It was a dusty Victorian exhibition space, forgotten by time, a place where you might expect to meet Charles Darwin or Dr. Livingstone squatting in a dark corner. Please, please, please just leave it alone, build your facilities somewhere else.

  • #790001

    Anonymous

    @shanekeane wrote:

    Why in God’s name can’t they just reinforce the stairs and leave the place alone? Seriously? It was the best museum in Dublin and the best Natural History Museum I’ve ever been to. It hasn’t got the resources to compete with London or New York in terms of screaming children and inane button-pressing gimmicks, so why doesn’t it just remain the utterly unique place that it was? It was a dusty Victorian exhibition space, forgotten by time, a place where you might expect to meet Charles Darwin or Dr. Livingstone squatting in a dark corner. Please, please, please just leave it alone, build your facilities somewhere else.

    I couldn’t agree more. I feel very strongly about this museum and its genteel decay is very much a part of its charm.

    Bugger the interactive displays – the place is beyond perfect at the moment. It’s a key and treasured part of my childhood and my childrens’ childhoods and there has been no obvious change in that time.
    I’m not sure whether the ‘extension’ is the only work proposed – if so and if sensitively handled it might not diminish the museum – but it should be visually separated from the interior of the museum in my view.

    Anyone want to organise a friends of the dead museum lobby group – maybe one exists?

  • #790002

    Anonymous

    There probably is a ‘save the dusty old museum’ group formed out there, because that’s the role of museums, isn’t it – to preserve the childhood memories of luddites.

  • #790003

    Anonymous

    @seanoh wrote:

    There probably is a ‘save the dusty old museum’ group formed out there, because that’s the role of museums, isn’t it – to preserve the childhood memories of luddites.

    This isn’t about being a luddite. This is about protecting a museum that is possibly the only one to survive largely unchanged from the Victorian period. Im irritated that you connect protecting heritage with being backward and against modern development. The fact is that The Natural history Museum is quite unique and adding on a shop and a cafe and a lecture theatre (how do they fit that into such a narrow extension?) detracts from this uniqueness. Every other museum or gallery has a cafe or gift shop selling postcard and pencils. Why should the NHM have to conform to this?

    Leave the building as it is

  • #790004

    Anonymous

    Are they going to reattach genitialia to some of the larger exhibits that were removed presumably to protect Victorian sensibilities?? Leave the Dead Zoo alone. Maybe they will build a 16 storey glass box over the whole thing to host their latest exhibit; Dilletantus Conservatourus (mickey optional)

  • #790005

    Anonymous

    And the money to build it is going to come from where?…….. oh, I forgot minister martin cullen ‘cos he just loves heritage

    folks Its not going to happen 🙂

  • #790006

    Anonymous

    @seanoh wrote:

    There probably is a ‘save the dusty old museum’ group formed out there, because that’s the role of museums, isn’t it – to preserve the childhood memories of luddites.

    Excellent argument, well presented and thought out AND respectful of others opinions.

    Congrats on post no 11. I await further gems with interest.:D

  • #790007

    Anonymous

    @&quot wrote:

    A MAJOR renovation plan for Dublin’s Natural History Museum has been put on hold because of the shortfall in public finances. Some €15 million had been earmarked in the National Development Plan to upgrade the 150-year-old building on Merrion Street which closed to the public in July 2007 after a staircase collapsed.

    There has been no public announcement on the postponement of the project, but a spokesman for the Office of Public Works (OPW) told The Irish Times that the refurbishment would not progress as planned.

    He said the OPW was instead trying to pinpoint the repair work that needed to be done to allow the museum to reopen in 2009.

    The spokesman insisted that the main project had not been abandoned. “We are not saying the project won’t happen. It just won’t happen in the timescale that was anticipated.” The original refurbishment plan included work to the fabric of the museum as well as a new glass extension.

    It would contain lifts, toilets, a shop and a cafe. New environmental controls would also be introduced to protect the collections. The project was due for completion in late 2010/early 2011.

    The National Museum of Ireland’s head of services, Séamus Lynam, said the museum staff were realistic and understood the problems with the public finances. “Basically the museum’s position is that we want to get the museum open again – 150,000 visitors come to our museum every year. That’s a big number. We are very cognisant of the huge fondness for the museum.”

    Mr Lynam said the museum would not be able to reopen until access issues were dealt with because elderly people or those with disabilities were unable to go upstairs. He said the museum would also like to see an improvement in its educational space before reopening. He hoped a decision on the reopening would be made early in the new year.

    As it awaits a decision on the reopening, the museum has planned a temporary exhibition on natural history in the National Museum at Collins Barracks in March.

    “We want to keep the footprint of natural history in the public eye,” Mr Lynam said. “That’s very important to us.”

    A temporary exhibition was recently held in the country life museum in Castlebar for the same reason.

    The refurbishment plan for the museum had been in the offing for some time but matters came to a head on July 5th, 2007, when a limestone staircase behind the scenes collapsed without warning. Ten people were taken to hospital.

    The building houses more than 10,000 exhibits of zoology and geology and keeps two million scientific specimens in storage behind the scenes.

    and here’s us thinkin Hutton was being cynical above

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2008/1227/1229728560950.html

  • #790008

    Anonymous

    when exactly is it going to be open?

  • #790009

    Anonymous

    when exactly is it going to be open?

  • #790010

    Anonymous

    This is good news. Maybe it will give them time to reconsider this terrible plan. If they want a school tour-infested space with interactive button displays and idiotic exhibitions, why don’t they just build a modern museum in the docklands and leave this one alone.

  • #790011

    Anonymous
    alonso wrote:
    and here’s us thinkin Hutton was being cynical above

    Quote:
    Joining the Dublin Civic Museum into the never-never land, I am afraid, and a lot more Arts projects likely to follow it, I fear.

    Survival of the Fittest, eh?

  • #790012

    Anonymous

    Nah – too busy pissing away billions into a failure like Anglo Irish in order to prop up ‘the developers bank’

  • #790013

    Anonymous

    In the meantime, while the Natural History Museum is closed, I wonder if the very interesting collection at the top of the Zoology building in TCD is still viewable?

    I haven’t been there for several years, and I’m aware that there has been a reorganisation of Departments in TCD which may have affected things.

    It’s obviously not on a par with the Natural History Museum, but still very much worth a look.

  • #790014

    Paul Clerkin
    Keymaster
  • #790015

    Anonymous

    @paul Clerkin wrote:

    the dead zoo is coming back soon 😀

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0414/6news_av.html?2736476,null,230

    Great news. That’s my lunch hours sorted for the next month then.

    I love that place – I actually called by today to see if it was open yet. The doors were open but not yet to the public.

    I’m delighted there was insufficient money to bugger it up.

  • #790016

    Anonymous

    😀

    Wonderful news. Can’t remember the last time I was in there it was that long ago. The restored staircase looks magnificent.

    Arguably the real star of the show is Philip Bromwell. As ever, an outstanding, beautifully crafted report. The only true television journalist in Ireland.

  • #790017

    Anonymous

    @publicrealm wrote:

    I’m delighted there was insufficient money to bugger it up.

    Well said.

    The recession is a blessing in disguise here in more ways than one.

    Not only will the museum be spared the vandalism that would have resulted in the
    proposed extension, but any talk of moving the Senate here is also out the window now.

    Thank heaven for small mercies like credit crunches.

    I can’t wait to visit here again when it reopens.

    For once we left well enough alone.

  • #790018

    Paul Clerkin
    Keymaster

    I cannot wait to bring my kids – they’re 3 and 5 so would not have seen it. I reckon the eldest will love it. The smallest will just climb the exhibits….

  • #790019

    Anonymous

    The museum will reopen Thursday 29th April

  • #790020

    Anonymous

    Just been down to have a look, and while it’s great that it’s open again, I’d have to say I’m disappointed. They’ve made a pig’s ear of the entrance. They’ve built a whopping great wall across it, to create a lobby area. I’m assuming this is so they can regulate the atmosphere within, but it ruins the view of the giant Irish deer (or elk?) just inside the entrance, and means the wow factor you used to have on entering is gone. If they really do need to regulate the atmosphere, would they not have used glass? Maybe it’s futureproofing against pay per view.

    Also, because you can’t go upstairs on the balconies on the first floor, (the railings failed the health and safety audit) you no longer get a decent view of the large animals on the first floor. They’re mounted on high plinths, which was fine when you could look down on them from above, but now you’re stuck looking at their undercarriages.

    I understand their health and safety concerns regarding the upper balconies’ low railings (well actually I don’t, it’s not like people used to fall over the edge, but let’s pretend for a minute that I do) but I don’t understand why they can’t put a couple of steel cables at an appropriate height. Even if only on some part of the upper balcony, to create a viewing area.

    It’s good to see the grand staircase at the back opened to the public – it would be nicer if half of it wasn’t boxed off with later offices.

    Still, it’s a great relief to see it re-opened, and for the most part it retains its cluttered Victorian glass case character.

  • #790021

    Anonymous

    saintleger, from what I understand of it, the reason the second floor balconies are closed off is that they failed fire evacuation times, rather than insufficient balustrade levels. This was one of the main reasons the major refurbishment was proposed: to provide contained fire exits from second floor level. As a result, only staff members and researchers will now be allowed access to this floor, presumably with prior notification of exit procedures.

    Can’t wait to see it again, not having been in for many a moon. If there’s one thing that is most irritating about the media coverage of all of this, it is the all-consuming focus on children. One would think it was an exclusively children’s attraction such is the way it has been portrayed by broadcast outlets. Still, it is wonderful to see kids so engaged with and animated about a national heirloom such as this. Long may it continue to enthrall.

  • #790022

    Anonymous

    Nice to have it back. Sorry to hear about the wall.

    Good time to also recall that Dublin must be one of very few capitals not to have a museum devoted to the City itself, since the Civic Museum closed “temporarily”, – a matter of supreme indifference to the citizens and their rulers even in the good years when there was money for every sort of crazy project.

  • #790023

    admin
    Keymaster

    I heard somewhere that the Civic Museum had fire egress issues which will be very expensive and logistically challenging to resolve; I stand to be corrected on this.

    In terms of museums it is I think only a matter of time before there are charges to them; we are way out of step with most countries granting free access; the winners being the bus companies who soak up that section of the tourists budget which otherwise would go on museum admission; lets be honest some of the collections held are well worth paying to see. The argument for keeping museums free is largely based on the very important role that museums play in childrens education; if all under 18s and all student card holders were granted free admission then tourists visiting here would simply revert to the european norm; this way the museums could earn income towards their ongoing maintenance and to acquire important historcal material which does the auction house rounds every 20 to 30 years as collectors pass on.

  • #790024

    Anonymous

    @dc3 wrote:

    Nice to have it back. Sorry to hear about the wall.

    Good time to also recall that Dublin must be one of very few capitals not to have a museum devoted to the City itself, since the Civic Museum closed “temporarily”, – a matter of supreme indifference to the citizens and their rulers even in the good years when there was money for every sort of crazy project.

    Well, the contents of the Civic Museum have all been transferred to the city archive in Pearse Street Library, no? So the building it was housed in was closed, but the collection is available upstairs in Pearse Street, if I understand. I could be wrong, I never went to the old museum, so not sure if there are omissions.

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned City Hall, “The Story of the Capital” exhibition/collection when discussing the idea of a museum of the city. It’s small, but I think it does the job quite well.

    Graham, that makes more sense, alright, I can see it would be a fire hazard as it stands, tripping over toddlers crawling backwards down the stairs. I still think the access to the upper levels is very important to the experience of the museum, and something should be worked out. I think the current solution indicates the priorities of the museum curators – they’re interested in the collection, whereas I see the collection as one aspect of the museum, and I actually think the importance of this particular museum lies in its architecture and history.

  • #790025

    Anonymous

    @PVC King wrote:

    In terms of museums it is I think only a matter of time before there are charges to them; we are way out of step with most countries granting free access; the winners being the bus companies who soak up that section of the tourists budget which otherwise would go on museum admission; lets be honest some of the collections held are well worth paying to see. The argument for keeping museums free is largely based on the very important role that museums play in childrens education; if all under 18s and all student card holders were granted free admission then tourists visiting here would simply revert to the european norm; this way the museums could earn income towards their ongoing maintenance and to acquire important historcal material which does the auction house rounds every 20 to 30 years as collectors pass on.

    It will be a sad day indeed when we are charged an admission fee to view the collections in our national museums.

    I don’t understand the logic behind the tour buses gaining an advantage. How will charging an entrance fee into the museums entice a budgeting tourist off his tour bus ?
    Furthermore, there appears to be an underlying assumption here that only tourists visit the museums. This is far from the case and introducing a charge to get in will dissuade many regular visitors from attending as often, and discourage many who have never been from ever doing so.

  • #790026

    Anonymous

    I’d have to disagree. Indeed far from a charge dissuading tourists from entering the museums, I’d imagine most get off the bus or walk in off the street with wallet in hand, only to be pleasantly surprised at being able to walk carefree into the building, sliding the cash back into the back pocket. There is significant potential for revenue generation through entrance charges, not only to supplement or partly replace existing central funding, but also to enable the museums to develop, conserve and better present their collections. Ireland’s museums have always been cash-starved – it is not a problem exclusive to the current economic backdrop.

    Likewise, as suggested by PVC King, universal and free access to all those under 18 years of age is sufficient to cover the museums’ critical educational role, while for regular users the museums can simply be added to the existing OPW Heritage Card system, which costs a minuscule €21 a year for free access to all OPW sites across the State. The Sunday family trip with hoards of kids likewise remains largely unaffected. Numerous open days throughout the year can also promote access to those who may otherwise be dissuaded by a charge.

    €5 or €6 is an entirely reasonable adult entrance fee to Kildare Street or Collins Barracks. I agree there is a noble air of civic mindedness in being able to walk in unhindered from a busy commercial street to view incredible objects from the past, but equally we have to be realistic about the realities of maintaining such collections, never mind expanding or developing them and the historic properties in which they are housed.

  • #790027

    Anonymous

    many Museums / attractions on the continent have free entry for citizens on the production of a valid piece of ID, the Boboli Gardens in Florence comes to mind.

    Why not charge Tourists a small nominal fee and let the citizens who maintin the museum via taxes continue to have free entry?

  • #790028

    admin
    Keymaster

    In Bolivia a number of years ago in their Art Museum they had a twin price approach; little for locals say 20c and $7us for tourists; given that the majority of tourists will pay close to €7 a pint in the Temple of Bars they’d feel even more ripped off. But I do see Temple of Bars aside the merit in what you say. you could picture the chaos of all those weekenders from Bolton claiming to have an Irish grandmother and spending ages trying to explainwhy they personally didn’t have to pay.

    I agree with Graham’s pricing matrix these are very high quality and sizeable collections; no doubt when the National Museum sends specific collections abroad the vast bulk of those viewing them would be paying to view them anyway. Worst case scenario it is a good press release for NTMA to display that the assets are being sweated at every possible opportunity; cutbacks would be a much worse result as some of the highly qualified experts would emmigrate and may not return.

  • #790029

    Anonymous

    Had my first lunchtime fix today and I’m still smiling at nine o’ clock Place was jammed with excited kids and parents (many completely ignoring the ban on photography). 😀

    Lots of stuff nicely cleaned-up, but not excessively so (pleased to see that the stuffing is still coming out of the suspended basking shark on the ground floor – and that he still dances when people on the first floor walk over him (her?)).

    Didn’t have sufficient privacy to establish whether the baboons can still be made to dance.

    The (‘temporary’) loss of access to the upper levels is sad, so some ringfenced funding must be found to restore it. But I absolutely agree with previous comments on admission charges – all under eighteens must be free and I would extend that to pensioners and unemployed if feasible.

    I note from the museum website that donations are tax allowable but that they do not appear to have a ‘friends’ scheme. Strange omission?

  • #790030

    admin
    Keymaster

    The choice is simple either go back to the bad old days of museums getting funding when it is available or allow the culture industry to act like a business. In terms of extending the provision from the under 18’s / third level students there could be an angle in developing a ‘social solidarity card’ to grant rights of admission plus say off peak travel on public transport etc to pensioners, unemployed etc. The last decade has seen dramatic capacity enhancements across a number of areas in the public services; not all of this capacity is currenty being utilised. This being a uniquely Irish piece of social thinking would unless copied (unlikely) result in the objective of tourist revenue being collected to pay for the benefits derived from our cultural assets being acheived.

  • #790031

    Anonymous

    @PVC King wrote:

    The choice is simple either go back to the bad old days of museums getting funding when it is available or allow the culture industry to act like a business. In terms of extending the provision from the under 18’s / third level students there could be an angle in developing a ‘social solidarity card’ to grant rights of admission plus say off peak travel on public transport etc to pensioners, unemployed etc. The last decade has seen dramatic capacity enhancements across a number of areas in the public services; not all of this capacity is currenty being utilised. This being a uniquely Irish piece of social thinking would unless copied (unlikely) result in the objective of tourist revenue being collected to pay for the benefits derived from our cultural assets being acheived.

    The very notion that I should have to pay to see collections of which I am co-owner is absurd and offensive. Charge for non-Irish citizens if you like, but I don’t see anybody paying what will inevitably be about €10 to get into the National Gallery.

  • #790032

    Anonymous

    @rumpelstiltskin wrote:

    The very notion that I should have to pay to see collections of which I am co-owner is absurd and offensive. Charge for non-Irish citizens if you like, but I don’t see anybody paying what will inevitably be about €10 to get into the National Gallery.

    I tend to agree. They are public collections.

  • #790033

    Anonymous

    I think the recent crisis of capitalism should be a caution against market-led approaches; by all means sell ‘souvenirs’ and have a cafe, but admission should be free.

  • #790034

    admin
    Keymaster

    @rumpelstiltskin wrote:

    The very notion that I should have to pay to see collections of which I am co-owner is absurd and offensive. Charge for non-Irish citizens if you like, but I don’t see anybody paying what will inevitably be about €10 to get into the National Gallery.

    There is a large difference between being a passive funder in the form of taxation and making a conscious effort to buy into something i.e. become ‘a freind of’ a cultural institution. Having been in a situation where there was a differential pricing model at a gallery where the locals paid little and as a tourist you paid a full price it leaves a sour taste which risks losing potential return visits.

    As public finances tighten further there iare real risks that the support services underpining all cultural assets will be cut and the ability to aqcuire important items that typical exchange between private collectors on a 30 -50 year cycle could be lost.

    Moving into line with most European countries is inevitable due to economic circumstances; however when you look at Parisian museums and galleries and what they have acheived with their income streams it is hard to knock the paid entry route.

    I do however think that there needs to be a social balance and in that regard I think the idea of a national solidarity card would give the government a great deal of scope to ensure that access is not denied on the basis of economic disadvantage.

    John you clearly don’t buy into markets but you have to admit that the only reason the UK can raise money on bond markets is that the deficit has been controlled until 2008; if business approaches aren’t taken to government quickly the UK will become the new Greece because like any household you can only borrow what you don’t earn for a while; if you continue to borrow you need to spend more and more money paying ever increasing levels of interest.

    Giving museums a chance to raise their own revenue really is the best form of self help and enables very specialist staff who make a very valuable contribution to remain in stable employment which many would describe as ‘their lifes work’. Protect them.

  • #790035

    Anonymous

    @PVC King wrote:

    There is a large difference between being a passive funder in the form of taxation and making a conscious effort to buy into something i.e. become ‘a freind of’ a cultural institution. Having been in a situation where there was a differential pricing model at a gallery where the locals paid little and as a tourist you paid a full price it leaves a sour taste which risks losing potential return visits.

    As public finances tighten further there iare real risks that the support services underpining all cultural assets will be cut and the ability to aqcuire important items that typical exchange between private collectors on a 30 -50 year cycle could be lost.

    Moving into line with most European countries is inevitable due to economic circumstances; however when you look at Parisian museums and galleries and what they have acheived with their income streams it is hard to knock the paid entry route.

    I do however think that there needs to be a social balance and in that regard I think the idea of a national solidarity card would give the government a great deal of scope to ensure that access is not denied on the basis of economic disadvantage.

    John you clearly don’t buy into markets but you have to admit that the only reason the UK can raise money on bond markets is that the deficit has been controlled until 2008; if business approaches aren’t taken to government quickly the UK will become the new Greece because like any household you can only borrow what you don’t earn for a while; if you continue to borrow you need to spend more and more money paying ever increasing levels of interest.

    Giving museums a chance to raise their own revenue really is the best form of self help and enables very specialist staff who make a very valuable contribution to remain in stable employment which many would describe as ‘their lifes work’. Protect them.

    memo to WHO:

    Serious oubreak of virulent strain of jargonophrenia in London. Cure urgently needed.

  • #790036

    Anonymous

    @rumpelstiltskin wrote:

    The very notion that I should have to pay to see collections of which I am co-owner is absurd and offensive. Charge for non-Irish citizens if you like, but I don’t see anybody paying what will inevitably be about €10 to get into the National Gallery.

    EU and EEA citizens would also have to be given the same concessions as any Irish citizens under Treaty obligations, if I recall correctly a museum guard in Madrid once had to check to see if Ireland was in the EU, rather ironic as we were members years before Spain was permitted to join.

    I am amazed no one mentioned the huge decline in visitors to museums in the UK when places such as the V&A were forced to charge access fees (in Mrs T’s time) and how visitor numbers exploded when the Labour government made national museums free.

  • #790037

    Anonymous

    PVC: You’re quite right to point out the dire state of the public (and private) finances in both Ireland and the UK (listening to some commentators, you’d think we all need to revert to some kind of pre-industrial existence). I never ignore the market, nor would I wish it away, but the importance of continued access to cultural assets in a recession should not be underestimated.
    Perhaps the key is to push the ‘voluntary contributions’ element; even an average of a couple of euros per visitor would bring in some useful revenue – based on the ‘if you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you’ principle.

  • #790038

    admin
    Keymaster

    We are in total agreement on preserving access and that is precisely why I would propose the National Solidarity Card which I would extend to off peak public transport to ensure that people in tough economic circumstances can lead full lives until such time as the labour market recovers to give them the resources to pay.

    The biggest winners from free museum entry in my opinion are the tour bus companies who charge massive fares; should people have to pay to enter museums I have no doubt that they would as opposed to visiting 6 or 7 museums to see the ‘must see exhibit’ listed in the guide book and galleries go to 1 or 2 but spend a lot more time in the chosen museum. London has done really well from corporate sponsorship up to recently but I understand that the cultural sponsorship environment has become a lot more challenging of late.

    DC3 as always makes a valid point and of Thatcher it must be said that she was a great fan of the big bang approach and if pricing were to be introduced it would need to be graduated over a number of years starting at say €2 year one and stepped up by 50c per year until a level of €5/€7 was hit. If numbers dropped too radically it could be reviewed; again coming back to Paris I would be surprised if they didn’t adopt a more graduated approach as unlike Thatcher the result was always more important to the french than the symbology of the decision.

  • #790039

    Anonymous

    I don’t think everyone is necessarily in disagreement here. There are countless ways of charging for entry while also retaining an element of free access for all. In addition to a card/friend/member method, there is also the simple system that operates in a number of cities where the museum is just free at weekends, or a designated weekday, or Sunday afternoons, or whatever. I think this is the most successful way of ensuring open access while also generating revenue for most of the year. I don’t for a moment buy that these are ‘national collections and must be free to view’. Virtually every State site across the island charges for access to maintain upkeep. The museums, by their very unique and broad-ranging nature must maintain universal access, but still should have the option of sustaining themselves in an equitable manner.

    To return to the topic in hand, as noted by publicrealm above, it is not until you step inside the Natural History Museum that the magical qualities of the institution are vividly evoked once more. You do indeed spend the entire time there smiling broadly, and continue to do so for much of the rest of the day. The combination of weird and wonderful exhibits, fusty, mellow Victorian interiors, and raucous hoards of children makes for an unforgettable experience. This is truly an institution of international significance.

    Once the geological and zoological collection of the Royal Dublin Society, all of the material of the Museum was formerly housed in Leinster House itself, before a design competition was initiated in 1851 for a new museum building to formally display the thousands of gathered artefacts. This process was promptly stopped when State funding would only be forthcoming on the basis of designs being furnished by the Board of Works – presumably they knowing best in the fickle field of cutting costs. In any event it was a happy occurrance, as the architect, the Board of Works’ Surveyor of Works and Buildings, Frederick Villiers Clarendon, was more than competent as executor of designs for the new building, having successfully extended the Royal Irish Academy around the corner on Dawson Street with a reading room and vast library in the years immediately prior to works on Leinster Lawn.

    His design is noble in its simplicity of form, elegance of detail, and deft handling of the practical requirements of an institution that turns its back on the outside world to shield its delicate collections within. It is a much under-rated building, a stoical, but in its own way cheerful, palazzo design that sits quietly and unobtrusively skirting the southern flank of Leinster Lawn.

    Rapidly built between March 1856 and August 1857, what makes the Natural History Museum of particular interest is that all is not quite what it was intended to be. To the modern-day visitor, the Museum is a stand-alone institution with a grandiose entrance addressing Merrion Square. Its design intention was quite the opposite. What Villers Clarendon conceived was a decorous sarcophagus exclusively serving Leinster House: its positioning adjacent to Merrion Square was entirely incidental. Indeed, the building makes no acknowledgement of the existence of the square whatsoever, set back a considerable distance from the street line and devoid of a ceremonial facade. We must bear in mind that the National Gallery had yet to be built, while the site of Government Buildings was a terrace of townhouses. The Museum was little more than a garden folly discreetly tucked away on Leinster Lawn.

    As seen above, as originally designed, there was no entrance to the Museum from Merrion Square. The intention was to provide access to the building from Kildare Street via Leinster House – essentially an extension to the growing complex the RDS was building for itself in and around the 18th century mansion.

    Here we can see the Museum’s connection with the main house via a curved screen wall (the lecture theatre in the middle, now the Dáil Chamber, would not arrive until the 1890s).

    A current map view of the original connection.

    As a result, the primary staircase and entrance hall is at the back of the building, while the front – now the principal entrance, installed in 1909 – goes unacknowledged by way of internal architectural treatment.

    The southern exterior wall of the Museum, which can be well appreciated from inside the private laneway running alongside Government Buildings, is little more than rubble limestone with brick-lined window opes.

    This is where the proposed new sliver of a glass extension was recently proposed to accommodate access provision to the upper floors, a café and a shop.

    The Portland stone carvings dressing the walls of granite ashlar are of a surprisingly high standard and charmingly themed on the natural world. The cornice and frieze is outstandingly detailed, while the linear panels above the pedimented niches show a variety of subjects.

    The central panel depicts Neptune flanked by two dolphins.

    The entire facade, along with that of the National Gallery opposite, was cleaned by the OPW about three years ago – quite the revelation of polychromy that went largely unnoticed by the public. Here it is back in 1994 as photographed by Jacqueline O’Brien.

  • #790040

    Anonymous

    Today.

    The statue of Surgeon Major and explorer T.H. Parke of 1893, by the sculptor Percy Wood, proclaims the entrance to the Museum from Merrion Square.

    Quite an idiosyncratic piece that shows a character beyond the humdrum approach to many public depictions.

    Signed to the base.

    The antics in the garden give a taster of what lies in store.

    A lovely little intervention here that goes down a treat as a fun introduction to proceedings. The poor lawn doesn’t think so though.

    The Edwardian entrance, unnecessarily compromised by bins (if painted a very nice colour).

    And really, the ramp? Not just why galvanised steel, but why at all?

    Why not slope the (brand new) fawn coloured tarmac up the miniscule gradient to the existing step?

    It creates a disappointly poor first impression.

    So moving inside, this is the modern entrance hall, which in effect is the divided off final bay of the ground floor exhibition hall, with original staircases either side of the Edwardian timber porch. The coffered ceiling has just been slabbed over and a stud wall erected.

    Obviously this arrangement is necessary, but requires resolution in the longer term. The skirting of the wall is unfortunate, and the doors would look better with the same pictorial treatment as the wall. A clever idea through that works to eye-catching effect while mitigating the impact of the intervention.

  • #790041

    Anonymous

    The delightful array of cabinets of curiosities that greets the entrant.

    Just fabulous. Where would you find it?

    I suspect the flooring, complete with heating grills concealing a pair of large water pipes, is an adaptation of the late 1880s or early 1900s. But what a beguiling atmosphere it generates.

    Looking from the back of the room over the insect displays towards the front, we get out first wide perspective on the ground floor exhibition hall. The massive weight of the upper floor is supported on the parallel rows of cast iron columns to the sides, and four intermediary columns in the middle of the hall which hold the weight of the wide span floor above.

    If there is a single disappointing aspect to this room, it is the lighting, which is grim and a bit depressing (more so than seen here). Compared with the warmth of Jacqueline O’Brien’s perspective from 1994, we have a colder environment today with the new florescent strip lighting.

    Changing the pungent yellow on the walls may actually improve matters, as the contrast is too great. A more subtle colour would yield a more mellow environment all round.

    The displays are, as ever, a fascination. Beuatifully maintained by the Museum.

  • #790042

    Anonymous

    Cockroach anyone?

    Oh hello.

    Don’t look behiiiind you…

    DEADLY!

  • #790043

    Anonymous

    Annnnd so we come to ‘it’.

    The infamous Portland stone cantilevered staircase to the rear of the building has been beautifully restored and the stairhall redecorated. What a handsome space it is, with its Venetian window that overlooks the rear of Government Buildings.

    We have relatively few public interiors in Dublin from the 1850s. Here we can see nice vestiges of Regency detailing.

    Aside from the occasional “there’s the stairs that COLLAPSED!”, most people clambered up its steps unawares of its recent history.

    Typically frothy Victorian cast-iron balustrade with mahogany handrail. Very nice indeed.

    The fine ceiling, with beautifully chosen colours.

    Do we really need to make a feature of smoke detectors through?

    The wonderfully robust doorcase providing access to the first floor exhibition hall.

    As can be seen to the left, this is another compromised space that still requires resolution as part of the museum masterplan.

    It is especially true of its equivalent door immediately beneath on the ground floor. This is the main entrance from the ground floor hall into the stairhall.

    As the eagle-eyed will have noticed earlier, the balustrade has had to be extended on the first floor to make it compliant. A chrome rail with tailor-made moulded feet was made to fit around the original handrail to minimise the impact on the historic fabric.

    A shame the same cannot be said of the visual impact. A slender bronze-coloured rail, as used all over the building around exhibits, would have worked so much better. There is no need to declare a contemporary intervention from the rooftops in a situation like this.

  • #790044

    Anonymous

    Nothing prepares you for the breathtaking grandeur, scale and mind-numbing clutter of the main exhibition hall, a drama heightened by the contrast with the cramped institutional atmosphere of the floor below. It is simply spectacular.

    It has been noted that architects of the Board of Works were distinctly more reluctant to visually celebrate the use of iron in their buildings than some of their private sector counterparts, perhaps due to a more conservative outlook. This is clearly seen in the Natural History Museum, where the ground floor cast-iron Tuscan columns could just as well be painted stone, while in the main exhibition hall the majority of iron supports are encased in timber panelling. A pleasingly robust aesthetic nonetheless.

    Alas, there are no clear shots to be had of the hall, with both of the upper galleries sadly closed off for now, but there is ample things to see, read, clamber over and pull out of with sticky fingers.

    His pal the doormouse waited around too long.

    The wonderfully varied, including very old, signage merely adds to the charm of the place.

    Comfy.

  • #790045

    Anonymous

    Why good afternoon sir.

    The poor aul rocks are sitting forgotton under the windows in beautifully designed cases. Someone take an interest, please! Could you create any more of a forlorn scene if you tried? (yes okay, the sash cord may have been institutionally ‘arranged’)

    The Museum’s geology room was demolished in the 1960s to create the huge slab (lavatory) office block for TDs beside Leinster House and has yet to be replaced. One suspects we shall be waiting a while longer.

    Back to the cute stuff. All together now…

    ahhhhhhh

    One feels for the unfortunate individual came across those chappies lying flat on their backs.

    The Natural History Museum is one of those rare, if indeed otherwise nonexistent, places where adults and children unite in complete fascination. It is wonderful to see kids fully engaged and completely happy in a public environment – such a rare sight these days. There wasn’t a disgruntled child to be seen in the entire building. Though a disgruntled photographer perhaps, given I have never in my life had to make so many retakes, with virtually every shot like this…

    …starting out like this.

    Great fun though. Truly, this is an institution of which Dublin can be absolutely proud. Indeed, this attraction is without question the foremost memory most visitors will have of being in Dublin. It is that critical to the success of the city in attracting international tourism – I cannot believe how we never heard a peep of encouragement from the various tourist authorities the whole time it was closed for works. Well actually, I can.

    At last a unique relic of Dublin is back open to its citizens, who in their own way take more from it, and from their sense of inheritance and ownership over it, than any visitor could. A classic weekend destination with the grandparents is usually the best introduction to its treasures. Long may it continue.

  • #790046

    Anonymous

    What a wonderful study. Beautifully described and photographed.
    Well done Graham. You have surpassed yourself yet again.

  • #790047

    Anonymous

    @Global Citizen wrote:

    What a wonderful study. Beautifully described and photographed.
    Well done Graham. You have surpassed yourself yet again.

    +1.
    Thank you!
    K.

  • #790048

    Anonymous

    @Global Citizen wrote:

    What a wonderful study. Beautifully described and photographed.
    Well done Graham. You have surpassed yourself yet again.

    +2 Great Stuff again.

  • #790049

    Anonymous

    +3
    As always Graham your reportage is much appreciated.

  • #790050

    Paul Clerkin
    Keymaster

    +4 fantastic – one of the great spots in Dublin

  • #790051

    Anonymous

    I wonder has GrahamH done enough of these reports to warrant his own sub forum?! A collection of reports on buildings around the city might be very handy.

  • #790052

    Anonymous

    + 5 or is that 6

    Outstanding 🙂

  • #790053

    Anonymous

    @Global Citizen wrote:

    What a wonderful study. Beautifully described and photographed.
    Well done Graham. You have surpassed yourself yet again.

    Great pics and well observed – a valuable record really – should persuade many to visit?

    Obviously you didn’t show the ‘adult’ section of the museum – and very sensitive of you – given this is a family forum.

    Nevertheless, I have included a (comparatively) poor image from that section (the lesser spotted flasher [sporting a typically shoddy Mac]).:D

  • #790054

    Anonymous

    Heheh – didn’t see him at all! I have to go back now and learn stuff! If there is an understated aspect to the museum, it is its educational value. The wealth of in-depth information on offer is a whole other dimension of the place – somewhere you can visit time and time again and find something new.

    Just on the entrance ramp, I see there’s a second step above the initial one, so that certainly changes matters. No doubt different options were carefully considered, but a graded path surface flowing into a slender timber ramp mounted on the lower step might have resolved matters less obtrusively. Indeed, even the existing ensemble in timber would make for a softer intervention.

  • #790055

    Anonymous

    Re: recent revelations on the behavioural habits of the Fruit Bat

    @publicrealm wrote:

    . . . . the ‘adult’ section of the museum – (the lesser spotted flasher [sporting a typically shoddy Mac]).

    Fair play publicrealm, you had the scoop on this lad

  • #790056

    Anonymous

    🙂

    Two letters below to The Irish Times (and Indo) over the past few days. Truly, you wonder with some people…

    New life in the ‘Dead Zoo’?
    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Madam, – Following the much heralded re-opening of the Natural History Museum, my wife and I took our two small children along for an outing. The great Irish deer (not elk, we are told) remains as impressive as ever; but I’m sorry to report, the rest of the museum was something of a let-down.

    The years of apparent refurbishment are little in evidence. Old Victorian cases, crammed (or stuffed) with endless specimens and dioramas of animal life predominate. Yellowing cards, apparently as old as the specimens themselves, are what seem to pass for explanations of what is on exhibit – with Latin names often to the fore. Is this really the best way to showcase the natural history of this island?

    I saw few if any attempts at contextualising the specimens, or using thematic or environmental approaches, or timelines, or indeed anything that might educate us in a more holistic way about Ireland’s rich fauna.

    As for the usage of modern interactive technologies that are so apparent in leading museums around the world – there was not a sign. However, I must confess my observations were limited only to the ground floor exhibits, perhaps the exhibits of worldwide animals on the upper floors might have made at least a nod to 21st-century educational and museum standards? Perhaps. But there is no lift to the upper floors (despite the years of renovation) so, as a wheelchair-user, I will never know. – Yours, etc,

    JAMES MacCARTHY- MORROGH,

    Shankill, Co Dublin.


    New life in the ‘Dead Zoo’?

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Madam, – James MacCarthy-Morrogh (May 17th), having visited the reopened Natural History Museum, bemoans the absence of “modern interactive technologies” and other characteristics of leading museums worldwide. He has, perhaps, missed the point.

    As a visitor since my childhood, and a visitor with my children, to me it is the very fact that it is not a modern museum that makes it attractive. It is an institution dedicated to a bygone age where museums were stocked by the mass slaughter of wild animals and where the wielder of the gun got almost as much recognition as the beast slain. It is full of decaying exhibits displayed with a style set in the 19th century and influenced by the 18th. It is a monument to taxidermy and pickling, butterfly pinning and crab splaying. It is so old-fashioned it is the most modern of institutions, an ironically self-referential museum dedicated to how museums used to be, made interesting if seen as a fully interactive, three-dimensional model of a Victorian museum in which visitors can imagine what it was like to explore natural history 100, and more, years ago. It is, therefore, a museum dedicated to the history of natural history museums. What more could we hope for? – Yours, etc,

    MICHAEL SINNOTT,

    Bangor Road, Dublin 12

    Thanks Michael!

    On another note, here is the report of December 2007 on the collapse of the cantilevered staircase in the Natural History Museum by Price & Myers consulting engineers. As widely expected, it was the legacy of splicing in new pieces of stone to make good surface wear on the steps of the subject flight that caused it to collapse. Small wonder then that a very necessary flurry of inspections took place on all so-called ‘cantilevered’ staircases in State ownership in the immediate aftermath of the incident, given this was the repair treatment applied to many of these staircases since the 1960s, when little was known about the mechanics of their loadings.

  • #790057

    Anonymous
    GrahamH wrote:
    Fully agree – an excellent letter- sums up the uniqueness and importance of the place much better than I could.

    Wrong place for interactive displays – all you need to do is visit and look at the sheer excitement and joy on the faces of the children.

    I do think there is room for some more written information – several specimens are completely unidentified (the marvellous muskrat for example has no nametag at all).

    I also think there should be a means of access to the first floor for those who need it – actually didn’t realise there was none (how did they get the heavier exhibits upthere?

  • #790058

    Anonymous

    Heheh – this great report by Philip Bromwell explains all, publicrealm 🙂

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0415/9news_av.html?2526249,null,230

  • #790059

    Anonymous

    @gunter wrote:

    Re: recent revelations on the behavioural habits of the Fruit Bat

    Fair play publicrealm, you had the scoop on this lad

    Oh a lively lad is the fruity bat – though I suspect this specimen is of the fairer sex..
    (am I allowed to say that? apologies in advance to any offended colleagues..):D

  • #790060

    Anonymous

    All the interactive display nonsense should be kept away from this museum. I do think, however, there’s room for that in a museum of science which this country badly needs, and I don’t mean a museum just for children. If Ireland wants to improve the quality of its third level science education and its scientific reputation, there should be some sort of science facility to promote it. It’s not difficult to create a good science museum like the one in London, including exhibits honouring great Irish scientists like Boyle, Kelvin, Walton and the like. Considering that a recent list of the 100 greatest Irish people didn’t include a single scientist or mathematician, I think it’s sorely needed.

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