Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


History, Arts, Art history

Publication Details

Presented at ‘EDEN 2017: Pasts, Presents and Futures’ Post Graduate Conference

NUI Galway 19th-20th May 2017


My doctoral research concerns the material and visual culture of modern Ireland with particular focus upon the role of exhibition display in commemoration and collective memory. Like many countries, Ireland has a chaotic past which results in challenges for museums in presenting history to satisfy the education and expectation of both national and transnational audiences. The Easter Rising of 1916 is the pivotal event in the creation of the modern Irish state and is widely recognised as a historical event upon which the cultural identity of Ireland is founded and consolidated. My research examines the challenges of displaying death and violence through images and artefacts in 1916 commemorative exhibition displays at three national cultural institutions in Ireland.

My analysis to date has indicated that the images and artefacts in my case study commemorative exhibitions are displayed in a way which confronts the tensions and violence of the 1916 Rising which were overlooked in previous exhibitions. This is largely achieved through the display of ordinary objects with visible traces of use such as James Connolly’s bloodstained vest which he wore during the rebellion. Such an artefact requires an examination of the actions carried out by the cultural institution in collecting and conserving the object; an analysis of how the visible traces of use authenticates the artefact as a tangible link to a nation’s past; and an analysis of the narrative strategies of its display. My research project uses commemorative exhibitions to link together the three disciplines of visual culture, material culture and museology.