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Thursday 18 April 2019

Art and artefacts 'offer window into our complex and traumatic past'

Survivor: Diane Croghan, who stayed in a Magdalene Laundry, views some of the items on exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks. Photo: Julian Behal
Survivor: Diane Croghan, who stayed in a Magdalene Laundry, views some of the items on exhibit at the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks. Photo: Julian Behal
Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

Ireland's "traumatic past" of Magdalene laundries, mother and baby homes and industrial schools is featured in a landmark new exhibition at the National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin.

Survivors of the institutions were given a private viewing of artist Alison Lowry's '(A) Dressing Our Hidden Truths' exhibition before it opens to the public tomorrow.

The exhibition, described as "a profound and moving artistic response" to the incarceration, forced labour and brutal treatment of so many children, men and women, represents the first time a museum has addressed this hidden aspect of Ireland's recent history.

Particularly poignant is an installation called 'Home Babies', created in response to the scandal of the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. It features christening robes accompanied by a monologue of the names of the 796 children, most of them infants, who died at the home and were buried in an unused septic tank.

Launching the exhibition yesterday, Children's Minister Katherine Zappone said: "It is only by investigating, accepting and confronting the truth of the darker moments of our past that we can ensure that they never happen again.

"Every part of society has a role to play in shining a spotlight on this past, no matter how uncomfortable that may be."

Lynn Scarff, the director of the National Museum, said the exhibition combines art with artefacts. "This is truly a landmark installation and offers a window into our complex and hidden past. It is not easy to face this traumatic past," she added.

Irish Independent

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