2020 | Professional

MUSE Design Awards Platinum Winner

Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI)

Entrant Company

Ralph Appelbaum Associates


Interior Design - Exhibits, Pavilions & Exhibitions

Client's Name

National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin

Country / Region

United States

In the literary world, Ireland punches above its weight, claiming Nobel Prize-winners and titans of modern literature, from Yeats and Beckett to James Joyce. The new Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) celebrates this storied tradition, providing a sweeping overview of Irish language and literature and exploring how such a small island has produced so many literary giants.

The product of a ground-breaking partnership between University College Dublin and the National Library of Ireland, MoLI opened in September 2019 in the historic Newman House. It is Ireland’s first literature museum and the first museum globally dedicated to the Irish literary tradition.

MoLI’s unique challenge was to create an engaging visitor experience from the written word. RAA’s exhibition design displays MoLI’s collection dynamically alongside media installations that bring Irish literature’s sights and sounds to life – from windswept hills and oral traditions to Dublin’s “dirty” streets and contemporary slang.

Each of MoLI’s three floors explores the Irish literary tradition from a different perspective: ‘Place’ on the ground floor, ‘Voice’ on the first and ‘Inspiration’ on the second. The exhibition design reflects these themes – immersive and generative to evoke Ireland’s landscape; flexible and modular to accommodate an ever-changing array of stories exploring Ireland’s range of literary voices; and participatory on the second floor, where visitors are inspired to write their own works.

At the heart of MoLI is the ‘Riverrun of Language’, an innovative multi-sensory and generative installation, which immerses visitors in the sounds of Irish language through cutting-edge media design. Visitors’ movements triggering sound showers of spoken literature and folklore, adding to the density of words in the river of language on the walls.

Throughout the rest of MoLI, visitors are similarly encouraged to become more than passive consumers of words: reading books surrounded by object displays, listening to an author read their newest work or even writing their own. The culmination of these participatory designs is a new kind of museum, a dynamic incubation space where contemporary and future writers are placed at the heart of the creative process.


Director / RAA
Phillip Tefft
Project Leader / RAA
Mirko Cerami
Content Developer and Script Writer / RAA
Helen Schulte
Script Writer / RAA
Laura Murtagh
Content Developer / RAA
Charlotte Kingston
Content Coordinator / RAA
Charlotte Stevens
Graphic Designer / RAA
James Ward
Graphic Designer / RAA
Sinead Foley
Director of Graphics / RAA
Mat Mason
Steve Lancefield
Clare Rowland
Andrew Lee
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