Connecting culture and migration: Europeana Migration Collection Days at the Hunt Museum

//Connecting culture and migration: Europeana Migration Collection Days at the Hunt Museum

Connecting culture and migration: Europeana Migration Collection Days at the Hunt Museum

Press Release from Hunt Museum,

Connecting culture and migration: Europeana Migration Collection Days at the Hunt Museum

30 November – 2 December – A weekend collecting personal objects and stories on migration and celebrating its contribution to our cultural heritage

Migration has often been the basis of culture and cultural heritage.  It has enriched our lives and brought new ideas, food, music, art and thought to our towns and cities.  Limerick is no exception from the Danes in 812, the Vikings in the early 10th century with the Norse king of Limerick, Ivar, the Normans from the late 12th century, the French in the 17th,Lithuanian Jews in the 19th, to the recent record of over 16 different new nationalities: Pakistani, Polish, Romanian, Syrian, Sudanese et al.  Emigration and return is a very large part of Irish history and its diaspora.

Both the non-Irish and Irish populations of the Limerick region often have histories of migration and emigration with their own stories and objects. It is these stories of personal family migration and the objects that symbolise them that the Hunt Museum would like people to bring in.  We will digitise them on the spot and add to Europeana Migration to demonstrate how Europe is made up of many different cultures. It can be any sort of object: letters, postcards, photographs, tickets, diaries, artworks, items of clothing, recipes, books, mementos, footage, badges, or songs.  

Adrian Murphy, Europeana Collections Manager tells why Europeana is making this large Europe wide Collection:  “The personal migration stories link to the importance of a European Union that exists to promote peace and borders that are not barriers in this the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Many of us are not consciously aware that we are the product of many cultural influences.”

Jill Cousins, Director and CEO of the Hunt Museum said “ We want to connect the personal stories with the richness of our cultural heritage epitomised by many of the objects we hold in the museum.  As well as the Collection Days we have invited schools to come and reinterpret some of our “migrated” objects such as the Syrian Raqqa Bowl,  the Egyptian Baboon, the Greek Dodecahedron or the Italian Maiolica Jars. All aiming to show how migration really benefits our cultural heritage.”

The event coincides with the centenaries of several countries in Europe, who have representative populations in Limerick and is part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage.  It is supported by funding from the Communicating Europe Initiative and the UL Centre for European Studies as well as grant from the Ireland Funds.

Mihai Bilauca, who has coordinated a commemoration and week long Exhibition of Culture and Tradition in the Hunt Museum for the Romanian Great Union Centenary, commented: “we all bring something with us from our countries and we are very happy to be contributing to the Europeana Migration Collection Days  but we are also looking forward to our Country’s Great Union Centenary and giving Limerick some tastes, sounds, scent and sights of Romania in our mini-exhibition and event on Friday 30th.”

On Sunday 2nd the Limerick Polish Community will be adding their objects and stories together with some music, dancing, food and drink.  Both these events are free to all.

On the three Collection Days people are encouraged to bring along one or more objects that are part of their own or their family’s migration story.  A booking system of appointments is available if you don’t want to wait and couple of the stories are given below.

End Press Release

Editorial notes:


Sybille’s Story: Ceramic Ornament

The story of an ornament which only survived because it was hidden away. It originated from her grandparents, who married around 1900, and lived in Konigsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia), and survived the first world war.

At the end of the second world war, people in the East sent parcels to the West because of the approaching Russians. The ornament arrived in Berlin, in a parcel that contained clothes and photos.

Sybille’s grandparents moved into an apartment in Treptow, which became East Berlin. East Berlin was bombed, and nothing was left of the apartment, except for the parcel, which was underground. When the war ended, one man who was digging in the rubble found the half burnt parcel which contained clothes, photos, and this ornament.

The man knew Sybille’s aunt, and thought that she may want it as a souvenir, as they had lost everything. The parcel was sent to her aunt, who had fled to Bavaria, in the West.

Her aunt then sent the ornament to Sybille’s mother, who lived in Franconia, between Nuremberg and Munich. It was them put in the back of the cupboard, staying there until her father died, and they had to empty the house. Finding the ornament again made them remember the story, and the ornament was brought with her to Ireland, where it now sits in the bathroom holding her make-up brushes.


Eoghan’s Story – Photo Album.

“I choose the Album because it is before the time of instant photography. Today, photos can be taken in an instant, capturing a memory. Memories are important to me, and unfortunately, when I was younger we did not have such smart technology. This album matters to me because it holds memories of my childhood, family, and people around me, and the thought of losing those treasured memories hurts. That is why this album of memories is important to me, and follows me wherever I go.”








Romanian Carpet – designed as a wall hanging

This carpet was in the bedroom of Ala and her brother. It hung on the wall in the winter for the warmth, and was removed in the summer so that the moths did not attack it. It was made by Ala’s grandmother on a loom, which was made by her grandfather. Ala’s grandmother made one for each of her 6 children, with a pattern designed by her, which has some Russian influences.

The carpet was passed onto Ala’s father, which she then brought brought with her when she moved to Ireland because she is passionate about keeping the craft alive, and because it really reminds her of home and childhood.

The process of creating this carpet includes washing, spinning, and then dyeing it, prior to weaving on a loom. It is a group activity where friends come to help, and were worked on during the winter. The carpets were also dowries.





Feeling at home in a new home

“I never appreciated very much these decorations when I was back home. They were everywhere in my grandmother’s apartment in Bucharest and more or less in everybody else’s grandmothers’ homes, on cupboards, beneath flower vases, on the TV sets.

I actually found them quite ridiculous – until I moved from Bucharest to Brussels to work as a curator in the House of European History. I took one of these macrame aprons with me by chance as I had borrowed one from my grandmother for an exhibition I had curated that year. I remember walking around my new big, already furnished house in Brussels, trying to make it feel like home.

I was failing. And then I put the macrame on a cupboard and there it was: HOME!”

Credit: (en) Feeling at home in a new home / Macrameul de acasa – Europeana Foundation. CC BY-SA – 

The Hunt Museum exhibits one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of Art and Antiquities, dating from the Neolithic Period to the 20th century. Generously donated by John and Gertrude Hunt to the people of Ireland, this diverse collection is now housed in Limerick’s 18th Century Palladian style building, formerly The Custom House.   

Europeana is Europe’s platform for digital cultural heritage with a mission to ‘transform the world with culture’. Europeana Collections is Europe’s digital library, museum, gallery and archive. From books, photos and paintings to television broadcasts and 3D objects, Europeana Collections provides online access to a vast store of cultural heritage material from across Europe for everyone to find, use and share: for research, for learning, for creating new things. (@EuropeanaEU)  –

Europeana Migration Collection Days 




  • 10-11 May 2018, Hungarian National Museum, Budapest, Hungary (and partners: REACH project partners, National Archives of Hungary)
  • 6-7 July 2018, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (in partnership with People’s Collection Wales)

The aim of the European Year of Cultural Heritage is to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage, and to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space. The slogan for the year is: Our heritage: where the past meets the future.


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