Leuven Institute

Irish College Exhibits

Leuven, Belgium | 2009

The Irish Colleges scattered around mainland Europe were set up to educate Catholics from Ireland in their own religion following the takeover of the country by the Protestant English state in the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland.

In the last decade, the Irish Government has financed the renovation of the premises of the Irish College in Leuven which now serves as an Irish Cultural Centre and a residence for Irish students, writers and artists. SDF was commissioned to place several informative touch screen installations and artworks around the newly renovated center to teach visitors about Irish history and its diaspora culture.

An interactive map orients new visitors to the Irish College buildings, historical objects, and new exhibits in the lobby. Overhead is a large robotic chandelier comprised of 26 gold leaf letters that rotate throughout the day. At any one time, the letters will form a legible word as seen from either the entrance or main hall of the College. The two words Ireland and Europe, in the three languages of English, Gaelic, and Dutch, and seen from two possible angles create twelve possible configurations of the sculpture.

In a cloistered seating area of the College there is an interactive book that contains excerpts from several rare Manuscripts. These were ancient books scribed and copied by Fransciscan monks that inhabited the College centuries ago. Near the old entrance is a large touchscreen that describes the Irish College’s foundation and features King Philip of Spain’s letter granting permission for the college to be established.

Near the entrance to the Chapel is a four screen interactive that provides insight into the intertwined histories of Ireland and Europe at the time of the Irish College’s foundation and in the centuries that followed. It particularly focuses on the men and women who migrated from Ireland to Continental Europe.