‘A win for the city’: Dublin’s 14 Henrietta Street secures European museum award

Silletto Prize recognises social history museum’s engagement with community

An installation at 14 Henrietta Street showing a tenement dwelling from the 1900s. File photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

An installation at 14 Henrietta Street showing a tenement dwelling from the 1900s. File photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

 

Dublin’s 14 Henrietta Street has secured the Silletto Prize at this year’s European Museum of the Year awards in recognition of its community engagement.

The former tenement building was turned into a social history museum by Dublin City Council following its purchase in 2008. It opened its doors to the public a decade later following extensive refurbishment.

Visitors can experience the building’s history from its early Georgian beginnings through its tenement times, aided by the real-life stories of those who lived there and who were familiar with its past and community context.

It was the only Irish nomination among 60 entrants at Thursday’s ceremony. The Silletto Prize is awarded to museums that excel at engaging with and involving their communities.

Throughout the process of creating 14 Henrietta Street, local community consultations and the gathering of an oral history collection were central.

Unlike traditional museums, the building’s fabric and lived history are considered the primary artefacts in its collection, combining to tell the story of the lives of its former residents.

Oral histories generously shared by former residents of 14 Henrietta Street and other nearby tenements contributed to and now feature as part of the guided tours.

“This award is a testament to the power of storytelling, thoughtful conservation and restoration, and creating a people-centred experience,” said Iseult Byrne, chief executive of Dublin City Council Culture Company which runs the museum.

“14 Henrietta Street is a place inspired and informed by Dublin, its history and its people. This is a win for the city as much as it is a win for the museum.”

The European Museum of the Year Awards are open to those that opened in the preceding three years, as well as established museums that have completed substantial modernisation, extensions or reinterpretations in the same time period.