Minister Catherine Martin opens two new public spaces at the National Library of Ireland
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD has today (13.06.23) opened two new public spaces at the National Library of Ireland (NLI) on Kildare Street.
The Manuscripts Reading Room and Art Room have each been sustainably restored and repurposed as part of the ongoing large-scale redevelopment of the NLI.
The Manuscripts Reading Room has undergone extensive refurbishment to make it more accessible. A sustainable approach has been taken to upgrade it from its recent use as an exhibition room, with the upcycling of readers’ tables, and the reuse of shelving and chairs. Upgraded glazing units have improved both sound and thermal insulation, while historical architecture dating from the original building, part of the Kildare Street club in 1861, has been carefully maintained.
The newly restored Art Room will open in the autumn for readers to consult the NLI’s visual collections. It will also act as a reception space for events. The area was initially known as the Large Book Room, and formed part of the original main building development, dating from 1890.
Commenting, Minister Catherine Martin said: “I am delighted to be at the National Library of Ireland today (13.06.23), on what also happens to be WB Yeats’ birthday. As I view some important historical pieces from the archives, including those from the Yeats family, I am impressed by the restoration work done on these two beautiful, accessible spaces. They are part of a transformational redevelopment for the NLI, enhancing this historic building for significant new uses for everyone to enjoy.
These beautiful reading rooms will be complemented in the coming years by the planned redevelopment of the former book stacks into a uniquely public-facing area. Housed over six levels, this will comprise new galleries and exhibition areas, a bespoke learning centre and a café and shop. A planning application will be lodged with Dublin City Council in the coming weeks for this overall redevelopment, which is in partnership with the Office of Public Works and my Department.”
Chairperson of the board of the NLI, Eoin McVey said: “The Manuscripts Reading Room and Art Room are just two elements of the overall vision of ‘Reimagining the National Library’, a capital development project under the National Development Plan. On its completion ‘Reimagining the National Library’ will be the most significant investment in the NLI since the main building on Kildare Street opened in 1890. We look forward to the next phase of works where we will see the redevelopment of the former book stacks in the West Wing.”
Director of the NLI, Dr Audrey Whitty added: “The restoration of the Manuscripts Reading Room and Art Room has been a joyful project reimagining spaces that honour the history of the building while providing contemporary facilities to make the collections universally accessible. As part of the NLI’s ongoing work to safeguard our heritage, the library has to date successfully moved 350,000 volumes of books, newspapers and periodicals from the unsuitable Victorian book stacks in Kildare Street to newly created safer storage. We are grateful to our partners in the Office of Public Works and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media in working with us to reach important milestones, such as today’s opening of the Manuscripts Reading Room and Art Room and we look forward to progressing with the planning application for the next phase of our development work on the former book stacks.”