The County Museum, Dundalk this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary with a number of events organised and more in the planning stages. The building, a former distillery and later tobacco warehouse was handed over by the Carroll Group to the then Dundalk Urban District Council with the provision of it be used as an interpretive centre. Following major works, carefully carried out to preserve the building as well as provide the facilities required, The County Museum was officially opened by President Mary Robinson on March 28th 1994. Permanent, ever changing exhibitions stand alongside temporary displays while the AV Theatre has also seen many plays and presentations staged over the past 20 years, many of which have gone on to award winning status.
Twenty years on and the museum has become an integral part of the county’s historic and artistic community. From the initial Presidential openings, exhibitions over the years have been opened by Ambassadors, Senators, Ministers and many well known celebrities across a wide spectrum. Curator, Brian Walsh spoke of the esteem in which the Museum is now held in across the country and beyond. “Without a doubt, the County Museum, Dundalk is highly regarded. We have all worked hard to create a museum which along with the permanent exhibitions also features a number of ever changing projects. “The feedback from Museum representatives from throughout Ireland and further afield is always tremendously positive. The County Museum, Dundalk is seen as a very innovative facility which has led the way in many projects. “We have received tremendous support from the people of County Louth over the past two decades and it is with these people in mind that we are planning a calendar of events for our twentieth anniversary year.”
While a specific 20th anniversary event will take place in March, plans for 2014, workshops, an exhibition and conference will also be held to mark the Museum’s major milestone. The aim of the one day workshops is to help people with an interest in history look after their own ‘collections’ as well as an exhibition of the County Museum’s history. Brian Walsh explains “Some people might have train sets going back years, some may collect stamps, some may have a number of first edition books or a huge photographic archive. “We would like them to keep their collections in top condition but they may not realise the pitfalls to maintaining collections, and this is where the workshops will come in very useful, dealing with care and also how to archive the collection.” The workshops are expected to take place on a monthly basis from March through to December.”
Opening in March, an exhibition, ‘The People’s Collection – 20 years a growing’ will shine the spotlight on the past two decades of the Museum in Dundalk, looking at the hundreds of exhibitions and projects staged in that time, and the historical contribution it has made to the Louth community and vice versa. Also taking place in the summer will be a Conference looking at the relevance of local history in the modern day museum and the part individuals and communities can play in preserving this history in an ever changing world. Plans are also continuing for the official opening of the 1916 exhibition which is set to open later in the year and will run through to late 2016. Anyone who may have some memorabilia they would like to contribute to the exhibition can contact the Museum at 042 9327056 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Also in the early planning stages are a number of events focusing on those people from Dundalk and Louth currently making history as Brian explains: The Museum was very proud to be involved in the Gathering History Project for 2014. As an audio project it has been invaluable and really demonstrated how many people from the County are leading the way internationally. “It would be fantastic if we could get some of these people on board to join us for a number of “Audience” nights through 2014. It would be a natural progression and something I feel would be of tremendous interest and very different from a TV interview. After all, they will be on home territory and in a relaxed atmosphere.”
Further details on the Workshops and additional 20th anniversary events will be released in the near future.