Exciting Science Stuff in Dublin!

Image - Outside of the Natural History Museum, Dublin

As you have heard from Cat, the secondary and post-16 team went to Dublin on a CPD trip for a few days to see how they ‘did’ museums and galleries across the water.  As science is my thing, I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the sciencey side of what we saw……

Our second stop after we arrived was Natural History Museum, part of the National Museum of Ireland.  In a beautiful traditional stone building was a really quite spectacular collection of animals that made us all gasp when we first entered.  On the first floor was the ‘Mammals of the World’ gallery that had been recently restored back to its former glory.

Image - Louise and zebra

The animals were presented in a traditional way, both behind glass and free on display, but it was the sheer number of specimens all packed together that gave this gallery the wow factor!  There were animals as far as you can see, from floor to ceiling and in every nook and cranny, including a massive Bow whale hanging from the ceiling.  The huge number of antelope heads mounted on the wall around the room gave it a bit of a feel of a hunter’s trophy cabinet, but it was far more impressive than that.  My particular favourite was the beautiful grey wolf and the HUGE grizzly bear, that prompted people walking past to exclaim ‘Bear’s aren’t really that big, are they?!’  Actually they are!  Unfortunately the upper floors were closed (due to health and safety reasons!) which was shame because you could look up and see the numerous specimens from a distance on the balconies but were unable to get a closer look.

Image - Impressive Irish fauna

On the ground floor, was the ‘Irish Fauna’ gallery which is dedicated to Irish animals, featuring giant deer skeletons and a variety of mammals, birds and fish.  This gallery wasn’t quite  as spectacular as the one upstairs ,but it was still interesting to see the range and variety of wildlife that can be found in and around Ireland.

Image - Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

The last museum/gallery we visited in Dublin on our trip before we flew home was definitely my favourite!  It was the Science Gallery, an initiative of Trinity College Dublin.  This is a new type of venue where science and art collide and it ‘aims to involve, ignite and transform curious minds through science through exhibitions, experiments and events’ and it certainly does that!

The exhibition that we were lucky enough to see whilst we were there was the beautiful ‘Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef’.  This touring exhibition was originally created by Margret and Christine Wertheim at the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles, but as the reef has moved around the globe, its content has expanded with contributions from local communities.  The Science Gallery has enhanced the project even further by adding an ‘Irish Reef’ and the Mathematics chapel that explains all about the concept of hyperbolic space.  The gallery mediators also did their part, by crocheting bits of coral themselves when not directly talking to people.  They are hoping to add their contributions to the reef before it moves on.

Image - Irish Reef

After a comical set of confused exchanges between ourselves and someone looking for some ‘guys’ from Manchester, we were lucky enough to have a chat to their exhibitions manager Rob Warren over coffee.  We quizzed him about the way that they work with artists to create such dynamic and innovative exhibitions and he was also very interested in the work we do in the museum, working with scientists to deliver exciting educational sessions for school students.  It was a very rewarding conversation that left us all with a real admiration of the vision that the science gallery has.

Their next exhibition is ‘Biorhythm: Music and the Body’, which explores the physics, neuroscience and mechanics of music! Sounds fascinating, we may have to go back to Dublin to see it…..

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