National Museum of Ireland launches four-year tender with £876,000 fee

The first project for the chosen studio will be an exhibition on early medieval insular manuscripts and medieval Ireland with a budget of £1.1 million.

The National Museum of Ireland has launched a tender for exhibition design services across its five sites over a four-year period, estimating the fee total at around £876,000 (€1 million) for the duration.

The initial project will be the development of a new £1.1 million (€1.3 million) temporary exhibition and interpretative scheme, featuring early medieval insular manuscripts from Switzerland’s Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen (Abbey Library of Saint Gall). The exhibition would open on 28 May 2025 at the National Museum of Ireland’s main building on Kildare Street in the centre of Dublin and close on 24 October 2025.

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The National Museum of Ireland houses the world’s largest collection of early medieval Irish objects. This exhibition will showcase manuscripts from Stiftsbibliothek St Gallen placed in the context of its own collection of early medieval archaeological objects that directly reflect the manuscripts’ historical and artistic context.

In essence, the exhibition should aim to take visitors on a geographical journey through the early medieval world. Starting with Ireland, it will move through what the brief calls “the insular world”, including Scotland, the kingdoms of Anglo Saxon England, the Isle of Man and Wales, as well as Francia (now France and Germany) to St Gallen in Switzerland, and onwards through the Alps to Rome.

The museum wants the “general atmosphere” of the exhibition to be “contemplative with a strong emphasis on movement through settlements and landscapes” and reflective of both the people’s and the manuscripts’ journey. The winning studio should consider incorporating large-scale quotations from key manuscripts into the design to highlight key parts of the journey as well as using aural content at a low level to indicate the geographical place and movement between places.

A short film around the Life of St Gall provided by Stiftsbibliothek, St Gallen is available – although needs to be translated into English and Irish – and could be used either online or within the exhibition. The brief asks that the exhibition emphasise mapping and geography showing “both Irish scholars’ views of Ireland’s peripheral place within the early medieval world along with the considerable impact the periginatio (pilgrimage) made in Europe”.

The flow of exhibition content should follow a general progression from the context of the manuscripts in early medieval Ireland. There should be a strong emphasis of “the physical appearance of both the landscape, settlement forms of society using as many reconstruction drawings as possible, and applications of media without an overemphasis on text”, says the museum.

Applications will be evaluated 80% on quality and 20% on cost. The deadline to apply is midday on 22 December 2023.

Applicants must also be able to provide confirmation that the tendering party’s turnover exceeded £259,550 (€300,000) during one of the last three years. This can be pro-rata in the case of a more recently established firm tendering, however the firm must have been in existence for at least six months to be eligible.

More information and the full brief document can be found here.

Banner and featured image courtesy of trabantos on Shutterstock 

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