Museums Matter opens at Turlough House

From De Lorean cars to a priceless Caravaggio, and from the Ardagh Chalice to a bedpan from Ballyhaunis, Irish museums have something for everyone.

This rich variety in museum collections across the island of Ireland is being celebrated in a colourful new exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, Castlebar, running until April 25.

The exhibition, entitled Museums Matter: Accessing Ireland’s Heritage, is a collaborative, cross-border project developed by the Irish Museum’s Association. Its key aims are to showcase some of the attractions housed in the 400 museums and heritage centres the length and breadth of Ireland, and to convey the enjoyment and inspiration on offer to people of all ages.

The exhibition — which is free of charge — will see the first outing of the pre-Independence signage from Castlebar’s old post office, which was acquired by the museum last December. Also on display are a paddling currach made for the museum by Andy McGonagal of Kincasslagh, and a set of golf clubs sold by Clery’s Department Store, Dublin in the 1930s.

Those attending the exhibition will also be able to get to grips with real museum artefacts and replicas thanks to a special handling collection which includes a Bronze Age axe, a drinking horn, and a Viking spoon and knife.

“Many people in the north and south of Ireland enjoyed visiting museums as schoolchildren,” says Mr Paul Doyle, chair of the IMA. “Perhaps they saw the Tara Brooch and the Cross of Cong at the National Museum, or paintings by Vermeer or Jack Yeats at the National Gallery, or participated in living history projects at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. At the IMA, we felt that we could present a glimpse of the wonderful treasures in our collections, providing colourful images of the objects we look after, and let people know better what we do and what we can offer them.”

The exhibition is accompanied by a booklet describing Ireland’s museums and their collections, an AV presentation, and activity sheets, all of which are available at www.irishmuseums.org More information is also available at www.museum.ie

The exhibition is funded by the Department of Arts, Sport, and Tourism, and the Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure (Museums Council of Northern Ireland ). Admission is free.

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm, Sunday, 2pm to 5pm. Closed Mondays (including bank holidays ).

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