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NLI unveils Lego model as major redevelopment work continues

Lego model of our building unveiled as major redevelopment work continues

Tuesday, 24 May 2022
Acting Director Katherine McSharry and child standing next to the front of Lego model of NLI

NLI Acting Director, Katherine McSharry, and  Elodie Kerrigan with Lego model


The National Library of Ireland today (24.05.22) unveiled a large-scale Lego model of its building on Kildare Street, Dublin 2. The model has been commissioned alongside the ongoing redevelopment of the main NLI building on Kildare Street. The first phase of the redevelopment programme ran from 2017 until 2019, moving 350,000 books, newspapers and periodicals from the Victorian ‘West Wing’ to newly-developed, safe book storage. The coming phase will redevelop the West Wing as six storeys of exhibition and public engagement space and will ensure universal access for all visitors.

The model shows the current building and imagines how the National Library of Ireland might look when the project is complete. Over the last four years, Lego hobbyists David and Breda Fennell worked closely with staff at the National Library of Ireland to create a design that represents the main concepts of the soon-to-be redeveloped Library, and which facilitated creativity and some fun features. The model is one of the largest of its kind in Ireland:  It measures 180cm x 168cm and stands at 60cms high.

Speaking at the unveiling, NLI’s Acting Director Katherine McSharry said: “As we move through our redevelopment programme, this hugely impressive model offers the public the opportunity to reimagine the National Library of Ireland with us. This next phase of our capital development programme, a partnership with the OPW and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media, will result in the complete renovation of our former book store into an exciting cultural experience – creating a major new public space for a new generation of visitors. This once-in-a-lifetime building project will deliver major new exhibition galleries, universal access for all, new learning and event facilities, a new shop and café, and enticing new public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

“The Lego model highlights both the opportunities offered by our redevelopment, and celebrates the much-loved features of our Victorian buildings. David and Breda have recreated the Library’s iconic Reading Room with a skill and attention to detail that will charm and delight all our visitors.”

Speaking about their work on building a Lego model of the National Library, David Fennell said: “It has been a thrill for us to work on this project with the National Library of Ireland. Representing one of the most beautiful buildings in Dublin did require significant imagination and innovative solutions. To ensure a stable build, the Reading Room walls and some of the exterior paving are built on Lego train tracks and the entrance floor is supported internally by Lego Duplo parts. Other design fixes included the deployment of Bart Simpson catapults; Lego sausages; vintage Lego Modulex pieces; and Lego dice tiles to create dominos. Rare gold Lego pieces were used to create an Irish harp feature while Star Wars insignia help recreate the building’s exterior.

“With a creative nod to the past, and inspired by old photographs, we recreated the original lawn outside the NLI,” he added.

The Lego model will remain in place in the main entrance hall of the National Library on Kildare Street throughout 2022. No appointments are necessary: just drop in and reimagine your National Library.

Further information on the NLI - including opening hours - can be found on www.nli.ie.

NLI Acting Director, Katherine McSharry, is available for media interview.