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Museum of Irish Country Life

  • Architect:
    Des Byrne - Architecture Services OPW
  • Award Type:
    Regional Award 2001
  • Location: Connacht
Museum of Irish Country Life

Citation

Western (over £100,000)

A bold and dramatic modern building which enhances the existing house and site and creates a wonderful public facility. 

Architects Comments
The Site covers 30 acres of garden including a Victorian Gothic house by Thomas Deane, with grass terraces, semi-formal gardens, woodlands, walkways, a lake with islands, a river, fortified house ruin and adjacent round tower. The Exhibition Building is set up at the woodland side of the grass terraces and Deane House. It was 4 levels, each relating to a terrace level. The entrance is at house level and the lowest level is at Lake Level. The entrance level is cut diagonally by a line that links the adjacent round tower and the house. Views of the exhibition building are framed by the woodland, the lake and its islands, and it acts as a plinth to the main house. 

The main exhibition level is one storey above Lake Level and cantilevers out of the terraces. The storage and conservation buildings are set in line with the existing courtyard buildings. These are connected to the exhibition building by a semi exhibition/storage link building set along the line of the rear garden of the house and creating a new courtyard. The house and courtyards accommodate visitor facilities at ground level and administration at upper levels.

Clients Comments
In the mid-1990’s a government decision was taken to relocate the Irish Folklife Museum collections of the National Museum of Ireland, consisting of some 50,000 objects, to Turlough Park House, Castlebar, a property made available by Mayo County Council. 

The brief from the National Museum required a fully functioning museum including exhibition galleries and other public services such as education facilities, a shop and restaurant, storage unit with conservation facilities, and administrative offices. To achieve this it was decided to build new exhibition galleries and storage facilities to the highest international museum standards and to restore the original nineteenth century house as public areas and administrative offices. Another essential requirement was that the new buildings, although considerably larger, would not dominate the original house and would be sympathetic to the landscape. This was achieved admirably, surpassing all our expectations. The building and exhibition will be open to the public from summer 2001