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Museum of Literature, Dublin, Ireland

The Museum of Literature Ireland, MoLI, is the new home for the world’s greatest storytellers. The project was a collaboration between the National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin, UCD, two great institutions with an incredible shared literary history.

MoLI is located in UCD, Newman House, the original home of the University and a site full of unique literary history.  Newman House’s Aula Maxima building has been transformed into a 10,000 ft2 exhibition space that provides universal access across all of the buildings within the historic site where UCD was founded.

Working in collaboration with Exhibition Designers, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Michael Grubb Studio were engaged to deliver a comprehensive lighting scheme to serve as a permanent exhibition about James Joyce.

There were a number of technical challenges to the project, the main challenge was controlling the amount of daylight entering the exhibition space through the four metre high Victorian windows, in order to maintain the stunning view whilst creating a darker, dramatic atmosphere inside.  Valuable exhibits required low level lighting and shielding from the daylight.

Due to the building being listed, no fixings were permitted to be mounted to the architectural fabric of the main building, Aula Maxima. Therefore, all of the lighting had to be integral to the elegant display showcases and exhibit structures, which was achieved by integrating lighting within the various exhibit structures.

Michael Grubb Studio developed a system of backlighting large scale display panels made of paper to highlight the organic texture, whilst preserving the legibility of the graphics displayed upon them.

The final scheme was a collaboration, requiring integration of our Lighting Design alongside audio to create an immersive exhibition experience where the visitor could listen to Irish storytelling from across the centuries, trace the footsteps of James Joyce through Dublin and encounter rare gems from the National Library of Ireland, including ‘Copy No. 1’ of Ulysses.


National Library of Ireland & University College Dublin

Scope of Works

Concept Proposals, Detailed Design & Production, Construction, Focusing, Programming & Commissioning

Design Team

Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) & Michael Grubb Studio


Andrew Lee


Dublin, Ireland