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NM Ireland NHM Dublin Dead Zoo to be reborn

Simon Stephens, Dublin’s ‘Dead Zoo’ to be reborn after major overhaul, Museums Association, 18 June 2024

National Museum of Ireland venue will close in September for revamp.

The collection will be moved during the redevelopment of the museum National Museum of Ireland.

The National Museum of Ireland has announced that its natural history museum in Dublin will close in September for a redevelopment.

The venue, known as the “Dead Zoo”, was constructed in 1856 and has changed very little in the past 168 years.

Architect Fitzgerald Kavanagh & Partners has been appointed by the Commissioners of Public Works to lead the design team for the redevelopment.

The first stage of the project will see the museum close to enable a full decant of the collection and an investigation into the state of the building.

A full refurbishment of the building is necessary to ensure that the museum is protected, conserved and made accessible for future generations.

The refurbishment will also address long-standing issues with accessibility, enhance the museum experience and engage visitors with the museum’s collection and role in addressing biodiversity loss and climate change.

In 2010, the museum had to close the upper galleries due to their unsuitability for safe visitor access.

In 2020, the museum closed temporarily to facilitate the removal of the whale skeletons suspended from the roof and the packing and removal of 20,000 specimens, and in order to install an internal platform and environmental seal.

This internal platform structure is protecting the building and its contents, while enabling initial investigative works on the roof and informing the overall project scope more accurately.

Lynn Scarff, the director of the National Museum of Ireland, said: “A drafty, leaky building that is not accessible to anyone with mobility impairment does not do justice to our wonderful visitors and the incredible collection we have in natural history.

“It is wonderful that we are moving to the next phase of this refurbishment project with the support of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media and the Office of Public Works.”

While the museum is closed, the National Museum of Ireland will create a Dead Zoo Lab at Collins Barracks to make the collection accessible. This will open in spring next year.

The ground floor of the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History will remain open until 2 September.