New viewing case for Ireland’s precious Book of Kells

Couple visiting the Long Room at Trinity College, Dublin

One of Ireland’s most important cultural treasures has a new state-of-the-art home that enhances viewing and safeguards it for future generations.

The famous ninth-century Book of Kells, housed in Trinity College Dublin’s Old Library, has been moved to a specially designed viewing case in the newly refurbished Treasury.

Manufactured by the Italian company that designed cases for the Mona Lisa, the British Crown Jewels and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the freestanding tower display case ensures the optimum environmental conditions and security for the precious manuscript, as well as an enhanced viewing experience.

The Book of Kells is thought to have been created around AD 800 and contains the four gospels of the Bible. It is famous for its lavishly decorated pages and the intricacy of its vividly coloured illustrations, which reflect the artistry of the monks who made it. It contains the earliest known surviving image of the Virgin and Child in Western manuscript art.

In its new case the book is tilted towards the viewer enabling them to better see the detail of this stunning work, sometimes referred to as the ‘work of angels’.

It will allow every single page in the book to be displayed on a rotating basis, including some of the manuscript’s most ornate pages, which have not been on public display for decades.

The Treasury has also been beautifully refurbished with a spectacular wall-covering magnifying the exquisite detail of the manuscript. The room will be in darkness except for a spotlight on the book creating an inspiring experience.

There is also a separate exhibition which explains how the Book of Kells – considered both a national and international treasure – was made and unlocks the symbolism within it.

After viewing the Book of Kells visitors can make their way up to The Long Room, which is part of the Old Library and holds over 200,000 of its oldest books.

With its high vaulted ceiling and towering oak bookcases The Long Room is regarded as being one of the most impressive libraries on the world.

The 65m room is lined with marble busts and also houses national treasures such as one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and a fifteenth-century harp that is the model for the emblem of Ireland.