The Hunt Museum

ABOUT THE HUNT MUSEUM

The Hunt Museum preserves and exhibits the original artefacts gathered, over a life time, by John and Gertrude Hunt and known as the Hunt Collection. The Museum also displays its own collections, as well as visiting exhibitions of Local, National and International significance with the overall aim of maximising their cultural and educational potential for the people of Limerick and Ireland.

THE HUNT MUSEUM DEVELOPS AND PROVIDES MANY ACTIVITIES:

Tours of the Museum’s Permanent collection.

Lectures on various subjects.

Arts and Crafts Classes.

Activities and Camps for Children.

Docents and volunteers assist with general visitors, school tours and other specialist groups.

Some of the rooms in the Museum can be hired for different events, such as meetings, lectures, seminars, receptions and  dining.

The Hunt Museum – a private company limited by guarantee. Registered in Dublin, Ireland – Company Number 204519, CHY No.10808, Registered Charity No. 20028206.

HISTORY

The Hunt Museum was established to house the internationally important collection of approximately 2,000 works of art and antiquities formed by John and Gertrude Hunt during their lifetimes. As antique dealers and advisors to collectors they built a thriving business and also began to acquire pieces that reflected their own interests and curiosity rather than for commercial purposes.

During the latter stages of John’s life, they became increasingly aware of the scale of their collection and wished for it to remain intact.  Fortunately, The National Institute of Higher Education, later to become the University of Limerick, agreed to house part of the collection on a temporary basis. The Hunt Museum opened there, in 1978, in an exhibition room with the display designed by architect Arthur Gibney.

During this period the Irish Government had declined the offer of the Collection, so finding a suitable home and owner to take responsibility for the artefacts became more urgent. The Hunt Museum Trust was established in 1974 to hold the Collection and the property at Craggaunowen, a 16th-century Irish tower house that the Hunts had restored, in trust on behalf of the people of Ireland.

The Trust established The Hunt Museum Ltd. whose sole purpose was the establishment of a permanent home for the Museum. Under the chairmanship of Dr Tony Ryan, this company provided the necessary energy to create the Museum as we see it today. A public/private partnership involving the University of Limerick, Shannon Development, Limerick Corporation and the Department of Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, linked with local business interests, secured the historic 18th-century former Customs House in Limerick city. They also secured the funds to restore and renovate the building to international museum standards.

The Museum was officially opened by An Taoiseach, John Bruton, on 14 February 1997. It was a moment of great celebration for all concerned however, unfortunately, neither John nor Gertrude Hunt had lived to realise their dream. The Museum stands as a monument to their enthusiasm, curiosity and generosity.

THE BUILDING

Regarded as the most distinguished 18th century building in Limerick, the Customs House is an elegant Palladian-style building designed by the Italian architect, Davis Ducart, in 1765. It was the administrative centre for the Revenue Commissioners (including Customs and Excise) in Limerick and it was also the home of the Collector. In the 1840s with the introduction of a new postal system a Penny Post Office was opened in the Customs House.

The Office of Public Works undertook the major restoration and refurbishment of the building completing it in 1996 and so realised the dream of John and Gertrude Hunt to have their collection housed in Limerick. The Customs House opened as The Hunt Museum on 14 February.