The exhibition shows the unique treasures of early medieval Ireland, exploring their connections with both the pagan past and the wider Christian culture of the time. The objects on display are of international significance, not just as archaeological evidence but because collectively and often individually, they represent major landmarks in early European culture. The first gallery is arranged chronologically, exploring the development of Irish art from the Iron Age to the twelfth century AD. Developments that sprang from the transition from paganism to Christianity, and the foreign and native influences that produced a Golden Age of Irish art and craftsmanship from the late seventh to early ninth centuries AD are highlighted. The impact of the Vikings from the ninth to the twelfth centuries and their distinctive art styles are also explored, as is the resurgence of ecclesiastical metalworking in the context of church reform during the eleventh and early twelfth centuries.
The second gallery is devoted to an early medieval Book of Psalms known as the Faddan More Psalter. This manuscript, which dates to approximately AD 800, was discovered by chance in a Co. Tipperary bog in 2006.
The third gallery explores the world of early medieval craftsmen through artefacts associated with the production and decoration of metalwork. Learn about the techniques used with the interactive glossary kiosks, with extreme close up images to explore.
Aspects of the museum’s architecture evoke the medieval Cathedral Treasuries that inspired the exhibition.
Splendid mosaic floors laid in the nineteenth century by Oppenheimers of Manchester, depicting scenes from classical mythology, have been cleaned, restored and integrated into the exhibition layout. Majolica fireplaces and door surrounds by Burmantofts Pottery, Leeds, have also been cleaned, and richly-carved wooden doors by William Milligan of Dublin and Carlo Cambi of Siena, Italy, have been redisplayed.