Ned Kelly Museum, Tipperary, Ireland

This unique project arrived in the office as a complete surprise. We were approached to design a museum dedicated to the Irish Diaspora in Australia. The museum’s central subject was to be Ned Kelly, a Jesse James like figure from the late 1800s. The legend and reality of Ned Kelly is seminal to Australian history. He was not just a roguish Robin Hood character but was also an ardent republican, informed by his Irish roots who advocated for independence from the British crown. His iconic death in a shootout with the British wearing a steel plated helmet and body armor has been the subject of movies, books, plays and art. Kelly’s father was born in Tipperary, Ireland but was transported to Australia as a young boy for the theft of pig from a local farmer.

The site of the museum was the cottage where the pig had been stolen. This small single storey dilapidated structure is located on a 40ft wide strip of land trapped between the former and new N8 Dublin Cork road. This substantial museum had to accommodate the refurbished cottage under a sheltering glazed structure, a replica of the ship that transported Kelly’s father, exhibition spaces, auditorium, viewing galleries, cafe and a shop

This thin site drove the solution of using a linear vertical circulation loop. Visitors approach and enter the museum under a giant replica of Kelly’s steel helmet that houses exhibition spaces on multiple floors. They circulate through the long site via the glazed hall housing the cottage and then go up a level to access the auditorium and a long bridge like exhibition space to return to the helmet form at the front of the site. From there they proceed up again to the upper exhibition spaces and eventually to the highest level to an exterior viewing gallery where they look out through the iconic helmet eye slit.

The project was granted planning permission and is awaiting construction. It was also presented to and received approval from the Australian cabinet.