Down County Museum opens new gallery space with help from Marcon Fit-Out

Down County Museum opens new gallery space with help from Marcon Fit-Out
Sep 2015

Marcon Fit-Out has helped Down County Museum in Downpatrick complete their extension project by fitting out two new galleries. 

The new space which is now open to the public allows visitors to explore the rich heritage and collections held by the museum.

Marcon were appointed by Down District Council in December 2014 to provide exhibition fit-out services for the project. The primary purpose of the extension was to provide a secure and protected environment for the famous Downpatrick High Cross.

Utilising our specialist joinery workshop to manufacture key elements of the museum, Marcon’s heritage team also managed the successful installation of the graphics, audio visual and display case elements of the project.

Marcon Fit-Out Director, Mark O’Connor commented, “We are really pleased to have been involved in this scheme, fitting out the new space within Down County Museum.  This challenging museum project adds to our growing reputation within this sector and demonstrates the expertise of our dedicated heritage team.”

The Early Christian Gallery and the Land & Sea Gallery interpret the history and iconography focussed around the 1100 year old Downpatrick High Cross.

The Cross has been restored and takes centre stage in the Early Christian Gallery, alongside associated objects relating to the Hill of Down.  This is the place where St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint, is said to have been buried in the fifth century, bringing to life the importance of the Early Christian history in the area.

The Land & Sea Gallery will showcase the important agricultural and maritime collections. The main theme, Harvest from Land and Sea, is based on the different ways to use the land and sea for food.  The main emphasis in this gallery is on people and the changing processes of farming life.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie, adds “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is proud to open this new high cross extension at the museum for the benefit of local people and tourists to the area, to tell captivating stories from our shared history, especially the story of our local Patrician and Early Christian heritage which is recognised world-wide.”

Local lead consultants in the design and procurement of the extension building were Architects Hutcheson Irvine Partnership, from Bangor, County Down. Partner Gerald Irvine, led a multidisciplinary team in designing the six spaces that make up the extension.

Gerald Irvine explained this was a challenging site to develop. He said, “Not only was it an extension to an historic listed building, it also had to house a very historic and meaningful collection. The  limited access for manoeuvring and handling of materials determined the building be designed in structural bays, enabling each bay to be erected and almost completed as the contractor progressed and moved out of the site.

Throughout the project, Marcon worked closely with world renowned interpretive designers Haley Sharpe Design (hsd).

Head of Project Management at hsd, Ron Watson, commented, “The Down County Museum extension project was an extremely exciting opportunity for us. Through the extension of the museum, new exhibitions, learning and social meeting spaces have been created, enabling visitors to explore the collections held by the museum.” 

Marcon Fit-Out has been responsible for the fit-out of a number of iconic museums and exhibitions over the past number of years, namely Titanic Belfast, Navan Fort, Carrickfergus Castle, the Guildhall and the Gobbins Path Visitors Centre.  Imperial War Museums have recently awarded Marcon with the redevelopment project at the popular American Air Museum at IWM Duxford near Cambridge, which will open to the public at Easter 2016.


Image Caption above :  Project team at the official opening of the new galleries at Down Royal Museum (back l-r) Alan Stewart, Business Development Manager, Marcon Fit-Out; Mike King, Curator, Down County Museum; Minister of the Environment Mark H Durkan MLA; (front l-r) Madeleine McAllister, Assistant Keeper of Collections, Down County Museum; Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie; Victoria Millar, Keeper of Collections, Down County Museum and Sophie Redman, Marketing Communications Manager; Haley Sharpe Design.