Arklow resident shortlisted for the prestigious Whitfield Prize

Arklow resident and author Dr Sherra Murphy has been shortlisted for the prestigious Whitfield Prize by the Royal Historical Society for her book ‘ The First National Museum: Dublin’s Natural History Museum in the mid-nineteenth century.

Dublin’s Natural History Museum is a uniquely preserved sliver of the past, an intact example of a nineteenth-century natural science collection. While its polished cases and stuffed animals show us what the museum looked like in its heyday, this book is the first detailed exploration of its early history, showing how and why it came into being, and what it meant in nineteenth-century Irish culture.


Published by Cork University Press, this is the first monograph on the Natural History Museum, illuminating its importance as the first public collection in the country. Outlining how natural science was a popular feature of Irish intellectual culture in the nineteenth century, the book explores the museum’s role in education and knowledge creation and discusses the range of people who created and made sense of the collections, showing how natural science in Ireland was not the preserve of the elite, but a collaborative project that enjoyed support from many quarters of society.

The winner of the Whitfield Prize will be announced by the Royal Historical Society on Friday 22 July 2022.

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