New ‘Wonder Cabinet’ Revealed at the National Museum

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD has officially opened the new ‘Wonder Cabinet’ at the National Museum of Ireland’s Natural History section in Merrion Square, Dublin.

Inspired by the ‘cabinets of curiosity’ which paved the way for the Victorian craze for museums, the new Wonder Cabinet is one of a kind in Ireland.  It’s an event space as well as an interactive exhibition space, allowing visitors to get up close to the multiple specimens featured within.

The specimens in the cabinet all come under the theme of ‘Predator and Prey’. They include a 30,000-year-old Spotted Hyena jaw from an Irish cave, a 10,500-year-old Giant Irish Deer antler, and a Loggerhead Turtle found on a beach in Co Galway.

Minister for Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan TD said in a statement; “The Wonder Cabinet is a beautiful space. It’s designed to give visitors a truly immersive and interactive experience with the fascinating artefacts on display. It’s a fantastic addition to the popular Natural History Museum. I commend the team who worked together to bring it from conception to reality.”

Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, said; “We’re always looking for new ways to engage audiences and communities in our exhibitions. How better than to create an interactive space like this, inviting visitors to get up close and personal with their history and culture. It’s already proving to be a huge hit, especially with younger visitors. We’re looking forward to showcasing it to visitors this summer and into the future.”

Chris White from Acrewood, who constructed the Wonder Cabinet, said; “It was important for us to ensure that the finished product was sympathetic to its surroundings, but also strong enough to stand the test of time. The Wonder Cabinet is made from sustainably sourced walnut and was created by hand in our studios in Baltinglass in County Wicklow.”

For a full list of what’s in the Wonder Cabinet, see below.

  • Spotted Hyena taxidermy mount – Today, these animals live in the wild in Africa, but fossils have been found in Ireland, dating back about 30,000 years.
  • Spotted Hyena fossil jawbone – See up close a real fossil that was found in a cave in Ireland.
  • Spotted Hyena skull (replica) – Touch a hyena skull and see its sharp teeth and distinctive powerful jawbone.
  • Giant Irish Deer (Megaloceros giganteus) – These giant deer went extinct in Ireland over 10,500 years ago and you can see their real fossil skeletons on display at the Museum in the Irish Room. The Wonder Cabinet will have a real fossil antler that is thousands of years to touch.
  • Loggerhead Turtle – This adult turtle was found on a beach in Clarinbridge, Co. Galway. These turtles eat animals, such as the moon jellyfish, while they migrate through the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Peregrine Falcon – This bird is the fastest living thing on Earth and can pick up speeds of over 250km per hour while chasing its prey.
  • Marine Handling Area – Touch a giant fossil shark tooth, a seal skull and a shark jaw at the Wonder Cabinet (Megalodon shark tooth, common seal skull (replica) and tiger shark jaw – all replicas)
  • People will be able to see up close some wild predators and prey that live in Ireland such as a sleeping fox, a hungry stoat, a mouse in hiding and a brown rat. In the Wonder Cabinet people can learn why hares live above ground and rabbits underground.

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