Collins Barracks Dublin

The High Art of Bric-a-Brac

National Museum of Ireland - Collins Barracks
Permanent Exhibition - What's In Storage

Remember how you could amuse yourself for hours by poking through Grandma's old bits of jewelry? Or the fun of rummaging through old dressers and sheds for the odds and ends of other days?

Some genius of a curator at the National Museum must be reliving his second childhood because the experience has been recreated at the Museum's Collins Barracks site. Hidden among mazy passages in this immense eighteenth century military building packed with old furniture and silverware and tanks are two long, low rooms stuffed top to bottom with display cases containing the odds and ends of treasures past.

Picture an old fashioned library with shelves of books reaching from the floor to ceiling. Put glass fronts on the book cases, replace the books with hundreds and hundreds of bits and bobs and you've got the feeling. Delft and Iznik tiles, Japanese swords, Roman glass, dozens of old decanter stoppers, french porcelain, ancient bronze votive statues, Egyptian amulets, medallions - anything and everything is tossed together.

It's a secret world, quiet and little visited. It's the nation's attic, the stuff that didn't make it onto the fireplace mantle. The hushed closeness, the stacks and stacks of jumbled treasures, the whiff of olden days.... you'll recognize the feeling.


by Scott Simons