Book of Kells Experience opens in New Square

College have said the new tourist attraction will be “respectful” to student residents in New Square

The Book of Kells Experience, an “immersive journey” exploring the history of the book and the Old Library, opened on New Square today.

In an email sent to the College community, the exhibition is described as exploring the “history and wonder of the Book of Kells and the Library’s precious collections like never before”.

The exhibition, housed in a red “pavilion”, was introduced to support the Old Library Redevelopment Project and continue to generate revenue “to fund the activities of the university”, according to Head of Tourism Drew Duggan.

The 90-minute exhibition begins with the Secret Life of the Collections, detailing some of the early printed books found in the Long Room.

This is followed by a 360-degree display explaining the Book of Kell’s history “through sounds, and projection and vision” from its creation on the Scottish Isle of Iona around 800 A.D. to its current place in the Old Library.

The exhibition concludes with an in-depth history of the Long Room, including a projection mimicking the architecture and images and videos from various books and collections housed in the library.

Members of DUPlayers, College staff and library staff are included in the exhibition as projections of people walking through the library.

The exhibition is located on New Square, where eight student resident buildings are located.

When speaking to Trinity News, Duggan said care was taken when constructing the exhibition to ensure students are not interrupted by the increased activity on the square.

“We did a lot of work around the acoustics in the exhibition, in terms of the internal insulation of the building, so there’s no noise coming from it,” he said.

“We haven’t had any issues – we have communicated through College with those that are in the houses surrounding New Square.

“We will be operating in a respectful way… there will actually be less people going through it than the Old Library.”

The exhibition has opened as part of the Old Library Redevelopment Project, a €90 million development to conserve the 18th-century building and its collection of books.

Construction and restoration of the Old Library will begin in late 2025, a delay on the initial plan of late 2023.

The Old Library will close for the course of renovations and the Book of Kells will be moved from the Old Library to the Printing House.

Duggan said when renovations are completed, the Book of Kells experience and red pavilion holding will be removed.

As with the Book of Kells exhibit in the Old Library, Trinity staff and students may visit free of charge.