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The vision of the Irish Georgian Society is to conserve, protect and foster a keen interest and a respect for Ireland’s architectural heritage and decorative arts. These aims are achieved through its scholarly and conservation education programmes, through its support of conservation projects and planning issues, and vitally, through its members and their activities.

Permanent closure of the Georgian House Museum, Dublin

25.01.2021

Posted by IGS

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Permanent closure of the Georgian House Museum, Dublin

The permanent closure of the ESB's Georgian House Museum at No. 29 Fitzwilliam Street will be a sad and significant loss to the public presentation of Dublin's eighteenth-century heritage. Announced through a planning application with Dublin City Council which seeks a change of use of the building from museum to residential purposes, the ESB have indicated that the move is being driven by a number of factors including "budgetary realities" and a "changed cultural environment".

Though this may be so, since its opening in 1991 when Dublin held the position of European Cultural Capital the museum has provided an unique opportunity for visitors to experience the architecture and the fine and decorative arts of a Georgian townhouse. The ESB is to be commended for its vision in creating the museum and sustaining it for so many years and in doing so demonstrated its credentials as a company with a “commitment to preserving Ireland’s heritage and environment”. In tempering this praise, it should be noted that the reconstruction and refurbishment of the house and of its neighbours in the late 1980s was on foot of an agreement with Dublin Corporation allowing the ESB to exceed standard plot ratios for nearby office blocks.

If the closure of the Georgian House Museum on Fitzwilliam Street is inevitable, the ESB should continue its commitment to Dublin's heritage through leading a drive for an alternative location. While the city possesses some very fine museums located within townhouses such as the Little of Museum of Dublin and No 14 Henrietta Street, these do not fully capture or present original home life of a Georgian townhouse.

Prof. Christine Casey has noted that "the city house was an occasion for the display of wealth and status, of presenting and doing justice to one's place in society" (The Eighteenth-Century Dublin Town House, 2010). With its Georgian House Museum the ESB sought to explore this from the basement through to the attic and in doing so provided a glimpse as to how Dublin’s many Georgian houses may have been furnished and lived in over 200 years ago.

With other Georgian cities such as Edinburgh and Bath presenting this important part of their histories through dedicated townhouse museums, it would be to the detriment of Dublin if its residents and visitors were no longer able to have a similar experience.

Image Credit: http://www.numbertwentynine.ie/