The Little Museum of Dublin

Another review for Guide2Dublin.com, this time I went to the Little Museum of Dublin. It was really quite good, far better than I’d expected to be totally honest. They even had an Italia ’90 milk bottle, same as the one I have in my attic… memories…

 

The Little Museum of Dublin – Review

James Keating

 

With only two rooms housing its entire collection, the Little Museum of Dublin certainly lives up to its name in actual size, but the collection is anything but little. Over 400 pieces are on display, showcasing Dublin life in the 20th century.

Perusal of the artefacts begins on the second floor of a beautiful Georgian building. The first room is home to some of the oldest pieces, from photographs depicting the Queen’s visit in 1900 to a portrait of Michael Collins.

More than just political history, the Little Museum showcases Dublin’s social and cultural history. WB Yeats’ photograph hangs alongside portraits of other playwrights and poets. A painting of Hilton Edwards, founder of the Gate theatre in the late 20’s, leads into the second room and the latter part of the century.

The 1930’s until the 1990’s are the subject of the second room. There is far more to see, the walls are barely visible behind photographs, advertisements, posters, records and a number of other items. Some of the most interesting are the stranger curios. A leather bingo card, for example, is part of the 1930’s collection and the tour revealed its surprising history.

World War II, John F. Kennedy’s visit, the rise of U2 and the dawn of the Celtic Tiger are some of the main themes of what’s on show. In between the bigger, better known relics of Dublin’s recent past are games, food, badges, magazines and many more simple pieces.

There’s a huge amount of character on the museum’s walls. For native Dubliners there’s a certain nostalgia in items such as the Wanderly Wagon or the Dublin Millenium milk bottle. For everyone else the museum captures the essence of the city, weaving a visual narrative of growth and change.

The guided tour is excellent, both informative and engaging. At times, in fact, it can be quite amusing. The stories behind some of the pieces reveal more about Dublin than you would expect, bringing the city to life in a vivid and interesting way.

This is the kind of thing that could have been handled quite badly, so the Little Museum deserves plenty of credit. There’s more to Dublin than visiting dignitaries or the 1916 rising, and the museum makes sure the cultural aspects of the city are brought to the fore.

Particular highlights include a copy of ‘Nouveau’ magazine, a lifestyle guide for the rich which managed only one issue in 1999, and the documents signed by Eamon De Valera which sent Michael Collins and his fellow plenipotentiaries to the treaty negotiations.

Incredibly, all of the pieces on display were donated by the people of Dublin prior to the opening of the museum. Even the building itself is an impressive piece of Dublin’s history; a Georgian house overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, illuminated by the sunlight which pours in through its windows.

An intriguing trip through recent history, the Little Museum is a unique way to explore the past. Through displaying the everyday alongside the extraordinary, a more complete picture of the recent history of the city emerges. What the museum lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character and charm.

The Little Museum of Dublin charts the social, cultural and political history of 20th century Dublin. It is located at 15St. Stephens Green. It opens Thursday to Monday from 12pm to 6pm with late opening until 8pm on Thursdays. Admission is €5 for an adult, €3 for students and senior citizens and free for the unwaged and children under 10.

For more information see http://www.littlemuseum.ie/

 

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