Seamus Heaney exhibition to draw 120,000 visitors

Up to 120,000 visitors a year are expected to attend a free exhibition of the late Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney’s original manuscripts and unpublished poems in one of Dublin’s most historic buildings.

Using an extensive literary archive donated by the Derry poet’s family, the National Library of Ireland is working towards opening the exhibition in early 2018.

It will be the first to be staged at a new cultural and heritage centre on College Green, part of the 18th-century Bank of Ireland building being made available to the State for 10 years.

It is one of several events that will see the public access the building near the junctions of Grafton Street and Dame Street, which housed the Irish parliament up to the 1801 Act of Union.

A budget of almost €800,000 is available for the exhibition design, supply, installation, and maintenance, and those tendering for the work have been told the design should allow for 120,000 annual visitors.

It will open seven days a week all year round, including bank holidays, and the NLI expects it to run for several years.

Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. He died in August 2013, aged 74.

At the announcement of the proposed exhibition 11 months ago, when it had been expected it would open in 2017, Seamus Heaney’s son Mick said he was delighted that it would be the inaugural show at the new cultural space.

The exhibition is being curated by professor Geraldine Higgins, director of Irish studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, which also has an archive of Heaney material, some of which will be used in the Dublin exhibition.

Original manuscripts, letters, photographs, audio and video recordings will feature in what the NLI expects will be a landmark international exhibition.

A dedicated space for audio-visual presentation will be provided, in addition to the main exhibition space of around 250sq m.


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