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Trinity to commission four new sculptures of women for display in Old Library

This is the first commission of new sculptures for the Long Room in over a century.

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The Long Room, Trinity College Dublin. Photo: Alan Kelly/ Dublin Travel.

The Long Room, Trinity College Dublin. Photo: Alan Kelly/ Dublin Travel.

The Long Room, Trinity College Dublin. Photo: Alan Kelly/ Dublin Travel.

Trinity College Dublin is to commission four new sculptures – all representing women scholars – for display in the Long Room of the Old Library.

The announcement comes a year after the university called on staff and students to submit nominations.

The scientist Rosalind Franklin, the folklorist, dramatist and theatre-founder Augusta Gregory, the mathematician Ada Lovelace and the writer and pioneering women’s rights advocate Mary Wollstonecraft have been chosen from a list of more than 500 suggestions.

A panel, chaired by the Provost and consisting of former registrars, the librarian and many academic and collections experts, selected the four names, which includes two women from the sciences and two women from the arts and humanities.

There are currently 40 marble busts on display in the main chamber of the library and all are of male scholars, with examples including Aristotle, Isaac Newton and William Shakespeare.

The College has acknowledged the need for their public spaces to better represent their diversity which has led to the monumental decision to introduce a series of female sculptures.

This is the first time in over a century that the University has commissioned new sculptures for the historic location.

The first for this space were commissioned in the 1740s, soon after the Library was built, and the collection has gradually developed since.

No new sculptures have been commissioned since the 1880s and no additional sculptures have been installed since the 1920s, making this the first commission of the 21st century.

At the end of last year, Provost Patrick Prendergast invited nominations from Trinity students, staff and alumni for new sculpture busts.

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The criteria for nominations followed principles used for previous commissions, which asked that the subjects be scholars and no longer living.

Despite the celebration of this new development, women will still only represent 10% of the busts standing in the Long Room of the library and the College has welcomed more ideas about how they can further reflect the full ethic and gender diversity of academic achievement.

Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast has welcomed the project, saying: "The Long Room in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin is one of the most magnificent rooms in the world, visited by hundreds of thousands of people most years.

I welcome this initiative as a step towards reflecting the university's diversity in such a nationally significant location.”

Helen Shenton, College librarian, said in a press statement that: “As the first woman Librarian in the College’s 428-year history, I am especially delighted to champion this initiative to address the historic inequity in the Long Room.”


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