OLMEC MAN AT THE HUNT MUSEUM – THE NEW MUSEUM IN A GARDEN
24 June 2021: The Hunt Museum, which exhibits one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of Art and Antiquities, has created an exciting new public space for Limerick. Museum in a Garden takes the Hunt Museum outside its walls to create a public urban garden in the heart of Limerick. The concept behind the garden, established as a Museum board priority in 2015, is to break down barriers to culture and art and encourage greater engagement with the community.
The garden was first opened as a public space in 2016. Then, in 2020, The Hunt Museum removed the railings around its green space to create the Museum in a Garden. Conceived as an extension to the museum, the garden will feature seven super-sized sculptures replicating artefacts from the museum. First to be installed is Olmec Man, a Mexican artefact that was digitised by TY students and made into a two-metre outdoor replica using 3D printing technologies with help from ESB, Arup, the Limerick School of Art & Design (LSAD) and Monaru.ie.
The beautifully designed river reflecting sensory garden by Nicola Haines also includes a community garden, a garden chess set, boules and “hills” for children to roll down. Custom-designed benches and personalised cobbles also feature thanks to the support of a public fundraising campaign.
Speaking at the official opening, Jill Cousins, Director, The Hunt Museum, said, “By allowing our objects to escape the museum walls, we hope to intrigue and entertain many more people. It is a work in progress and over the next six months more sculptures will take up residence outside as we hold events in this brand new and exciting space. Everyone was so generous under the Fund a Cobble campaign and JP McManus Golf Pro Am and our volunteers have been numerous and many. Museum in a Garden belongs to us all, to admire the sculptures, picnic, play chess, tend to vegetables or to simply sit still.”
Garden Design of Community-Influenced Sensory Garden
Running down to the River Shannon, the garden provides an oasis of calm in the city centre. The garden design was awarded to Nicola Haines following a nationwide competition where her innovative river reflecting, community-influenced sensory garden design won over the judges.
Explaining the concept behind the garden design, Nicola Haines, Tierney Haines Architects, said, “The design draws on the maritime connections of the building and museum collection by creating ‘tide lines’ of grass and planting that ebb and flow around the garden, creating alcoves of shelter for exhibition space, seating and play. Exhibition alcoves are planted to give a flavour of the origin of sculptures exhibited and provide semiprivate seating, whilst larger spaces create opportunities for growing, learning, games and events. The garden will be an inclusive public garden space which we hope will be loved and used by the local community and visitors alike.”
THE ORIGINAL SCULPTURE, OLMEC MAN
Item Code L 003
A male figure in polished green serpentine or jade. This sculpture has its origins in the Olmec civilisation, the most ancient in Mesoamerica. Carvings left by Olmec masons suggest a society based on centralized political and religious authority. Distinctive features of carvings include many of those exibited in this statue, such as snarling mouth and prominent thick upper liip, toothless gums, bent legs, a flat nose and a proportionally large and bald head with cranial deformations. This figure is similar to those found in an elaborate burial at the formative site, La Venta. This example differs in its apparent mutilation of the arms and head, a practice commonly related to the abandonment of Olmec sites.