where?CHQ Building, Dublin's Docklands
- +353 (01) 906 0861
June 2017: Located in the cellars of CHQ- a Grade 1 listed former wine warehouse in Dublin’s docklands – EPIC Ireland is the Irish Emigration Museum. At just over a year old, it isn’t yet on everyone’s radar, and locals might be wary of a museum that styles itself firmly as a ‘tourist attraction’. But beyond the airport advertising, EPIC Ireland is working hard to encourage Irish visitors too, especially families. Getoutfindout.ie went along to assess the museum’s family-friendly credentials.
The museum is made up of twenty ‘galleries’ (warehouse vaults), all of which lead naturally into each other, and visitors wander in turn through the museum’s key themes of Migration, Motivation, Influence and Diaspora Today. The low ceilings of the original vaults make the different rooms small and intimate, and the low light levels of the museum’s underground location are perfect to highlight its best feature – loads of great projections, neon, screens and technology! Needless to say, on the day we visited, this was the highlight for our younger visitors, who were quickly swiping in every direction on the dining-table-sized screens, jumping in and out of projection hotspots on the floor, and dancing along with a life-sized Jean Butler in Riverdance clips. And if it’s something a bit more old-school you’re after, there’s also the EPIC Ireland Passport, a physical booklet to be stamped in a special machine in every room to unlock extra content at the end of the visit.
A drawback of all this wonderful technology is that the lure of each new gadget can sometimes detract from the stories the museum is trying to tell. This is especially true for kids (and grown ups!) who, drunk on all the fun, race around each new corner without really engaging with the museum’s themes. In contrast, we were really blown away by a straightforward video early on in the visit with actors portraying true stories from the lives of Irish emigrants to New York, proving that sometimes simple is best.
In Dublin we are really spoiled to have fabulous and free museums and galleries that have large and varied collections. EPIC is in a different style. There is a charge - €35 gains entry for 2 adults and 2 kids – and it has a very specific story to tell. It’s also hard to escape the sense that EPIC is aimed firstly at tourists, and the slightly reverential tone of some of the information might be hard to swallow for some. But for all that, the exhibitions also display a lot of humour, touch on the darker side of Ireland's emigration story in the final rooms, and there is lots to explore for families with kids willing to pause for a moment or two to take it in.
Overall, with Dublin’s Docklands on the doorstep and a good range of eateries in the CHQ building above, this is a good option for a rainy day in Dublin, especially for families with children of aged 10 and over.
For details on ticket prices, visit the EPIC Ireland website. The museum is open 7 days a week.
Update: at the end of June 2017, EPIC was nominated for a Children in Museums Award by Hands On International
Getoutfindout.ie was given free access to the museum for the purpose of this review.