National Science Museum
HERITAGE HOT SPOTS: What is it?This little-known museum on the campus of NUI Maynooth, in Co Kildare, has the largest display of scientific instruments on public display in Ireland.
It began life as a museum of ecclesiology in 1934 and gradually developed its extensive collection of scientific instruments from the 1970s until it was officially opened as the National Science Museum, in 1999.
At that time, the museum was renovated and upgraded with new display cabinets and an interactive zone.
The museum is a fascinating introduction to the theories of chemistry, electricity, magnetism, heat, light, sound, mechanics and meteorology through historic instruments and experimental apparatus. You can see everything from early Bunsen burners to telegraph machines, spectrometers, kaleidoscopes and thermometers. Most were made in Dublin between 1880 and 1920. There is also a good collection of radio and telegraph equipment as used by Marconi in his first wireless transmissions from Ireland in 1898.
The museum also throws light on the often forgotten inventor of the induction coil, Nicholas Callan (1799-1864). One section is dedicated to his instruments and how he worked with them. Another houses a collection of ecclesiastical artefacts from the past three centuries.
It’s a perfect place to explore during Science Week, which continues until tomorrow. As part of Science Week, the museum has a special opening from 2pm to 5pm today. For science-related events throughout the country, see scienceweek.ieand ingeniousireland.ie/buzz.
How do I get there?
The museum is on the Old Campus in Maynooth, a short walk from the centre of town. Follow the signs for the National Science Museum from the main entrance of the Old Campus. It is open from May to September between Tuesdays and Thursdays (2pm-4pm) and on Sundays (2pm-6pm); it’s is also open from October to April by appointment. Admission is free; donations are welcome; 01-7083780, nuim.ie/museum.