Shackleton Museum, Athy
The design of the Ernest Shackleton Museum is an extension of the protected structure that was formerly the Athy Town Hall. The building on Emily Square is at the heart of Athy and is considered a landmark building which needs to be extended sensitively to respond to its new role as the premier museum, forum and archive documenting the life of the distinguished Polar Explorer from Kildare, Ernest Shackleton.
The Athy Heritage Centre was gifted the Shackleton Cabin in 2015. The cabin was to be the centrepiece to the exhibition. Its location and the story behind the polar explorer has led to the design and development of the building.
The location of the cabin on the first floor and the journey to this form the basis of the design. The challenge of the current exhibits while future proofing the building and improving the accessibility opened up the opportunity to create a new extension to the protected building.
The museum is not a static exhibition and the design team have presented the artefacts as well as creating dynamic spaces allowing for talks and further study all add to the dynamic ambitions of the council. The council also see this as the opportunity to revitalise the building and the wider context of Emily Square at the heart of Athy.
The sculptural form of the “shard” is reminiscent of an iceberg and the overall breakup of the glazing and cladding is based on the triangulated fractal geometry found in nature. It serves as an iconic symbol fitting to such a museum and the person it is representing.