National Museum to unveil plans for major revamp

Extensions, updgrades and connections between museum sites part of 15-year vision

Long-term plans: the National Museum on Dublin’s Kildare Street. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The National Museum will on Thursday unveil plans for new ways to stitch the institution into the fabric of Dublin.

It hopes to do this by building a physical link between the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street and the National Museum on Kildare Street (which specialises in archaeology and ancient Ireland), and by connecting, in a way yet to be specified, the museum’s Collins Barracks site (decorative arts and history) with the Liffey, via Croppies Acre.

As part of a 15-year vision for the National Museum of Ireland (NMI), outgoing director Raghnall Ó Floinn, who retires on Friday, will outline a long-term plan, Connecting our Past and our Future 2018-2032.

The initial redevelopment, up to 2027, follows last month’s announcement of €85 million capital investment in the National Museum, as part of the State’s Project 2040.


The Merrion and Kildare street museum buildings are aligned and back on to each other from two parallel thoroughfares, with part of Leinster House between them. To the onlooker, the internal Leinster House second-floor bridge, between the back of the Dáil chamber and the ministerial corridors in Government Buildings, appears to be what occupies that space between the two museum buildings.

Collins Barracks would become the focus of all NMI sites, with an "orientation and welcome facility" at Clarke Square

It is understood plans for a connection between the two, so people can walk from one museum to the other, form part of NMI’s vision statement.

Visibility and integration

It is understood the museum has consulted all stakeholders, including the OPW and the Ceann Comhairle’s office. The €85 million investment was the largest for any institution in Project 2040, and the museum plans significant phased upgrades.

It is understood part of NMI’s longer term vision (2027-32) involves the museum at Collins Barracks (Decorative Arts & History) creating a link to the River Liffey, “to enhance visibility and integration with the city”.

Collins Barracks would become the focus of all NMI sites, with an "orientation and welcome facility" at Clarke Square, revamped galleries for decorative arts, and history, and new galleries for earth and science, and for world cultures.

Croppies Acre lies between the Luas line in front of Collins Barracks and Wolf Tone Quay on the Liffey and is reputed to be a burial ground of some who took part in the rebellion of 1798. A report last year into possible road widening failed to find evidence of burials, however.

The long-term plan for the National Museum of Ireland Country Life at Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co Mayo, is understood to be redevelopment as a museum of social history.

The site will become a dedicated collections resource centre, and will be upgraded and expanded.

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times