National Archive Repository Project – development of new storage facilities at the National Archives to commence
Preparatory work for the major redevelopment of Ireland’s National Archives is about to commence. This project funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under Project Ireland 2040 will see the development of new purpose built storage facilities at the National Archives premises in Bishop Street.
Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD, commented: “As we approach the 100th anniversary of the destruction of the Public Records Office at the Four Courts, it is right that we invest now in developing a state of the art facility for protecting our national archives for future generations. The redeveloped Archives will be open well ahead of the anniversary of that destructive moment.”
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the National Archives have worked with the Office of Public Works to review and refine the design of the facility to meet the long term needs of the National Archives in its key city centre location. The redeveloped building will ensure that archives are stored in a fit for purpose building with the potential to develop and construct additional storage as required in the coming years. The Government’s investment programme: Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage has identified an indicative investment level of €22m in the National Archives under the programme.
The National Archives is the only cultural institution with formal services to both the Government and the public. This investment address the storage difficulties that the National Archives has encountered over the past number of years while ensuring that it can accept and preserve the volumes of records created and held in Government departments and offices. The upgrading of the current warehouse adjacent to the National Archives building into an Archive Repository is the first step towards a comprehensive renewal of the National Archives. Future plans will see the development of education and outreach facilities in addition to ensuring the public record is preserved and made available either directly in the Reading Room or online via the National Archives website.
As part of this Project, the warehouse which has been used as an interim storage facility must be emptied to facilitate enabling and construction works for the development of new archival storage vaults. The warehouse currently holds records which have been digitised and are not required for daily production in the reading room, in addition to various series of records which are closed to public inspection or which have yet to be catalogued.
This first element of the project will entail the transfer of some 95,000 archival boxes off-site to ensure their continued preservation and to eliminate any risk of damage through being retained in direct proximity to the construction works. In order to allow staff to carry out preparatory works for the transfer, it will be necessary to close the National Archives to the public for the week of 22 – 26 October inclusive.
John McDonough, Director of the National Archives said: “This is an exciting and challenging time for the National Archives as we prepare for substantial construction works later in 2019. We require this time to prepare materials for transport from Bishop Street, to facilitate the commencement of this significant project to provide appropriate storage and ensure that we can continue to fulfil our duty and obligation in preserving and making available the public record. We hope our readers understand the need to temporarily restrict our services and that we are doing so to work towards a better service for all.”
While the preparatory works for the new facility will continue over the coming months, it is expected that the process to identify contractors will commence in 2019, with works to start later that year.