By Juliana Adelman
Cleaning glass and dusting are activities that I avoid in my own house, but for some reason in the context of the Dublin Natural History Museum they seemed like fun. Last Friday Ciarán Wallace and I spent the day getting a completely different perspective on my favourite Dublin cultural institution. The museum is to open on the 29th of April after three years and I am glad to say that nothing much will have changed except the paint. They also have a nice new structurally sound staircase. Unfortunately the downturn in public finances spelled the end for the museum’s renovation project which would have added disabled access, a cafe, a separate education room and proper toilets. Despite this disappointment I am delighted to see the museum reopening and am glad it will retain its Victorian character. I thought I would share some photos from our day of dusting and scrubbing. I had the bizarre experience of looking at the museum from inside the glass cases while the animals sat outside! Seeing the specimens out of context confirmed for me the degree to which the display structures of the traditional cabinet museum present a particular message to the viewer. Although innovative taxidermy towards the close of the nineteenth century posed animals in family groups or in active scenes (the museum has a few bloody examples of animals eating prey), there is no question that animals in glass boxes do not trouble you with their gaze in quite the same way. Anyway, read on to enjoy a different perspective on the museum.