This is the first book to give a long-term and comprehensive account of the stories, the histories and the evolution of Irish museums and galleries. From 1790, when the 'cabinet of curiosities' was an important asset in a gentleman's home to the new millennium, when museums and galleries are at once physical and virtual spaces, this is a fascinating history of the human desire to collect, catalogue, conserve and create stories around our shared heritage.
The author brings museum buildings and their contents to life in a very new way. The stories behind the collections make for fascinating reading. The reader quickly begins to appreciate the nature of the cultural space provided by the museum/gallery and to understand that beyond housing the collections for which they were created, these spaces are far more than architecture and objets d'art—they are a direct reflection of social mores in any given period, of artistic trends and counter-trends, of the politics of a nation and of the aspirations of those who use 'culture' for various agenda.
Marie Bourke's book is the first of its kind, providing an erudite but accessible monograph on the history of the museum/gallery in Ireland within an international context, while at the same time making a strong case for the future viability of those spaces in the age of global technology.
Marie Bourke is Keeper and Head of Education at the National Gallery of Ireland