Visitors from as far afield as North Korea, Afghanistan and Kazhakstan have passed through the doors of Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Museum in recent months, as the city centre attraction looks ahead and considers plans for 2020.
A growing number of guests to the former church building come from abroad, with people from 73 countries recorded on visitor books. Reviews on Tripadvisor give some insight in to how the experience is received.
In a presentation to local councillors on Monday, Kilkenny Civic Trust CEO Ciaran Conroy said the goal of the Trust, which operates the museum, is to ‘contribute to protect, enhance and promote the heritage of Kilkenny for generations to come’.
The museum team has implemented a programme to create greater access to its medieval space, with initiatives such as torchlight tours, a medieval banquet, a Lego hunt, architecture of sound event and antique toy exhibition undertaken in the last year.
A number of proposals and ideas are being considered to consolidate the museum’s position and to help grow visitor numbers in the months ahead. These include providing access to the Bryan vault in the graveyard, the creation of more ‘family experiences’ such as scavenger hunts and medieval dress-up areas, the establishment of a searchable catalogue of burial monuments, exploring the possibility of a charity partnership initiative, and input into the future development of St Mary’s Lane.
Other ideas to be explored in the future, provided funding can be secured, include new temporary exhibitions (Alice Kyteler witch trials, Wolf Walkers), and ‘The Big Dig’ — under taking a live, open archaeological excavation such as in Rothe Chapel.
“It is encouraging that the Medieval Mile Museum is bucking the national trend with visitor numbers growing this year to over 23,000 while other attractions are reporting a decline,” said Mr Conroy.
“Visitors from more than 73 countries around the world have now visited Medieval Mile Museum since it opened, and have heard first-hand the rich story of Kilkenny by our proud and passionate local tour guides. This year’s unveiling of the 3 lives, 3 deaths, one life unlived exhibition garnered national and international attention, including RTE television news, and marked another proud milestone on our journey.”
He said the Medieval Mile Museum continued to go from strength to strength, and visits to the website are up 70%.