Tandem Design

National Museum of Ireland

Temporary Exhibitions

Proclaiming a Republic

National Museum of Ireland

“We developed the exhibition concept through our process of spatial design, thematic mapping and visitor flow modelling…”

Tandem was appointed by the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) to design and deliver a temporary exhibition commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. It was developed as a significant aspect of the wider national commemoration of the centenary.

The NMI’s Easter Week collection is the repository for many iconic, unique and emotive artefacts and images, reflecting the events and evoking the varied personalities involved in the Easter Rising. The exhibition highlights these objects and images, at the same time celebrating their intimate connections with the events of the Easter Rising.

The process

Tandem co-ordinated with the museum curatorial and education teams to identify key themes, stories and topics for interpretation. We worked to maximise the unparalleled significance of the museum’s Easter Week collection and the unique opportunity that it presented in interpreting the Rising, by using object display to share and illustrate stories and ideas in a way that would not be possible in any other location.

We developed the exhibition concept through our process of spatial design, thematic mapping and visitor flow modelling,  creating a comprehensive plan of the visitor journey.

Actin as team leader Tandem co-ordinated the activities of the other subcontracted members of the wider team of contractors ensuring that the project developed in line with the brief and requirements, and that communication channels were maintained.

This included arranging audio-visual content development and installation of AV hardware, display case design and manufacturing, object mounting, and developing specifications for lighting and mechanical/electrical services.

We had an advisory role in the development of the exhibition title and written content, and supplied additional art-working services to support the client’s design team to ensure that the project was delivered on time.

The result

Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising is a temporary exhibition featuring a multimedia visitor experience with the display of the NMI’s Easter Week collection as its core focus.

The layout of the central exhibition space represents the layout of Dublin, with clusters of artefact displays and interpretive media positioned in an arrangement that resembles the relative positions of the rebel garrisons.

At each ‘garrison point’ a selection of small artefacts, such as clothing, weaponry and letters, introduce the personal stories of the men and women who were present there during Easter week 1916. 

Subtle AV installations support the narrative. The occasional sound of gunfire acts as a surprising feature, putting the visitor in the heart of the action. Screens playing reels of archive photography and film footage are positioned throughout the space. As part of a poignant display on the last days of the leaders before they were executed, visitors can use a hand-held audio device to listen to recorded readings of their last letters, ’reading along’ with the original letters which are on display.

The final section of the exhibition considers the impact of the Rising. Here tribute is paid to all the casualties of the Rising in a memorial piece. 

There are dedicated focus areas on the topics of

  • the role of the NMI during Easter Week, and in its curatorial role over the past century in generating and conserving the Easter Week Collection
  • the 20th century illuminations of Leabhar na hAiséirghe (Book of the Resurrection) one of the most visually stunning memorials to have been made to those who campaigned for Irish independence.

An AV piece encourages visitors to reflect on the words of the Proclamation and consider its relevance today.