National Museum unveils ‘community’– themed programme

Schedule for 2019 will see roles in Culture Night, Dublin Pride and Stoneybatter Festival

The National Museum welcomed 1.2 million visitors last year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The National Museum welcomed 1.2 million visitors last year. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


The National Museum of Ireland has announced a 2019 programme that features engagements with Culture Night, Dublin Pride and the Stoneybatter Festival, among other events.

The programme of activities includes five flagship exhibitions ranging from “an artistic interpretation” of mother-and-baby homes, to women’s experiences of rural electrification and a conference and exhibition on the War of Independence and Civil War.

In keeping with its Master Vision Statement 2018 - 2032, the museum, which welcomed 1.2 million visitors last year, has adopted the theme of “community” to be the backbone of its 2019 activities.

The museum will play a role in events such as the Stoneybatter Festival in Dublin’s north city, recording images and documenting the festivities as part of a living history record that will offer future generations a look at what a festival in Dublin was like in 2019.

The Museum will also host a Dublin Pride Block Party in June to celebrate LGBTQI+ culture and history in the city.

Director of the National Museum Lynn Scarff, who took up the position last July, said the museum’s role was “to preserve and present the stories of Ireland”.

She said more then 160,000 people engaged with the museum’s education and outreach programme in 2018 and that this figure is expected to rise to 170,000 this year with 500 events and workshops, 400 school visits and 2,200 self-directed school initiatives and 1,100 facilitated group initiatives.

Nigel Monaghan, acting head of collections, said the museum’s Irish Community Archive Network had archived the records of 17 separate communities that wanted to document their history – 16 of them in Galway because of the collaboration of Galway County Council. Over the next three years this number would rise to about 70, he said.

Dr Audrey Whitty, keeper of art and industry at the museum, said a Women in Design conference would be held in May to draw attention to the work of pioneering women – from furniture designer Eileen Gray and contemporary lighting artist Niamh Barry to contemporary artist in glass Alison Lowry.

Ms Lowry’s response to the Magdalene laundries and the mother-and-baby homes is called Dressing our Hidden Truths. It is described as an “artistic response to the shameful parts of our recent past that were hidden truths for many years”.

It was put together with the aid of Diane Croghan, who was 13 when she climbed inside a laundry van to escape the Sisters of Mercy Training School in Summerhill, Co Wexford. Ms Croghan told The Irish Times she was looking forward to seeing the exhibition open to invited guests on Monday and the public on Wednesday.