Monday, January 31, 2011

Collins Barracks, part deux

So last week, I did an interview with Dr Audrey Whitty, one of the curators in Collins Barracks and, as promised, I visited it at the weekend.  The short version is that the place is an amazing, world-class museum and, as befitting such an accolade, it's impossible to see all of it in one afternoon. 

I checked out the Soldiers & Chiefs exhibition, which traces the history of the military presence in Ireland right up to our peace-keeping UN duties.  It was awesome and features everything from uniforms, some of which you can try on, to weapons you can play with, vehicles and memorabilia like the coat Michael Collins was wearing when he was killed (and now I see why they called him the "Big Fella"!) 

The Airgead exhibition looks at our money over the last millennium (give or take), with interesting lists of what you could buy for the various denominations in different periods as well as more coins that you could sift through in a year.

Across the main courtyard, the visible storage section is a glass menagerie of, well, stuff.  You name it, it's there: silver, porcelain, samurai uniforms, glass, jewellery, cameras, boxes, statues, scientific instruments and a stained glass window by Harry Clarke!  I just gave it a quick whizz through but will have to return on my next visit.

I also looked at the Curator's selection, which contains items from right across the collection - like a capsule wardrobe of what they have.  Apart from that, I barely even made it to the first floor.

Free admission, a free coat check and an excellent shop tick the right boxes.  However, no photography is allowed and the signage throughout the museum could be improved. Museums are divided on whether photos are allowed.  I completely understand when we're talking about light-sensitive items like paintings and textiles, and that museums need to have a unifying policy, but when I'm looking at replica High Crosses and coins, I can't see why photos are not permitted.

It's open 2-5pm on Sundays, which is sadly short and I certainly hope this will improve in the future.  There's a nice Brambles coffee shop, who were in a bit of a hurry to close early when I was there. 

If you live in Dublin and haven't been there, you have absolutely no excuse.  It's even got its own LUAS stop.


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