Launch of Joint Funding Project

Image credit and copyright: Ian Maginess From left: Professor Gerry Doyle, Research Astronomer, Armagh Observatory; Ms Carol Conlin, Assistant Keeper, Armagh Public Library; Mr Jim Graham, Director of EB Scotland Ltd, t/a Score Environment; Ms Thirza Mulder, Archivist, Armagh Public Library; Armagh Deputy Lord Mayor, Councillor Sylvia McRoberts; Dean Gregory Dunstan, Keeper, Armagh Public Library; and Mr Barrie Elkin, Score Environment.

Armagh Public Library and Armagh Observatory have begun a joint project for the conservation of part of their heritage.  The two institutions, founded by Archbishop Richard Robinson in 1771 and 1789 respectively, have obtained funding from the Landfill Communities Fund to raise interest in and awareness of their nationally significant museum collections, dating back more than 200 years.  The project will also help to preserve the collections and make them more easily and widely accessible.

The collections awareness project, which is supported in part by the Observatory through core funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and by an additional contribution from the Armagh City and District Council, has two main objectives.  The first involves cleaning, cataloguing and re-packing part of the Library’s collection of 1,500 prints dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries; the second involves a comprehensive programme of conservation, cleaning and cataloguing of the Observatory’s specialist astronomical museum collection which includes around 600 historic scientific instruments.

The Keeper of the Library, the Very Revd Gregory Dunstan, said: “We are delighted to have gained this funding from the Landfill Communities Fund, which amounts in total to £21,583.  We are most grateful for the support of Armagh City and District Council, and Score Environment for securing these funds. We believe that this project will strengthen Armagh’s specialist museum and library facilities, and improve access to these nationally significant collections, making them available both to local visitors and tourists. We are also very glad, through this generous grant, to be able to make the expertise of our Archivist available to the Observatory.”

The Observatory’s Director, Professor Mark Bailey, said: Both these historic institutions hold valuable museum collections in addition to their specialist libraries and archives.  They include objects such as prints, astronomical drawings, photographs, and historic scientific instruments.  Taken together, these objects illustrate important developments in the arts and in sciences such as astronomy and meteorology over more than 200 years. This project will preserve, catalogue and make these items more easily accessible to visiting researchers and the general public, both for personal research and for wider education, learning and public understanding of science.  It provides another very important example of effective collaborative work between these two ‘Robinson’ institutions in the City of Armagh.”