Guinness Storehouse

Review

of an Exhibition

by Justine Roberts

Published on April 08, 2010, Modified on August 24, 2010

  • Description:

    Dublin is still a very low city so the 7-story tall Guinness Storehouse has a terrific view. They are well aware of this. In fact, the culminating moment in any visit to the factory museum is the Gravity Bar where visitors exchange the token they were given at entry for a pint to be enjoyed with 360 degree views of the city. You can sit at the bar, but most visitors choose the comfortable couches arrayed along the floor-to-ceiling windows, and take their time.

    Getting to the Gravity Bar is pretty cool too. The museum is in the original Guinness factory, a 1904 brick and steel structure that has been rehabbed with modern glass and brushed nickel. The design is a little steam-punk – there are large scale tanks and copper vats, stacks of barrels, and rusted metal bands, old tools, diagrams, large steel girders spanning over head, and beautiful flat screens with media on them glowing out of darkened corners. In fact, media pops up in surprising places – as a way to “see inside” the tanks and barrels, for instance. The light controlled space is very effective at making you feel as if you have stepped into another time and place.

    The first floor of the factory experience is also designed to transport visitors. It is set up to introduce visitors to the main ingredients in Guinness: water, barley, hops and yeast. These are presented on a monumental scale – a waterfall cascades overhead while a giant container of hops appears to be mechanically raked (this is a media piece and uses projected video). A small tray presents barley that visitors can touch, and taste if they are feeling brave. Underfoot, a glass floor floats above mature hops plants. The sound and smell create an immediate sense of place and establish the brand of purity and agelessness for this icon.

    The footprint of the museum is small and there are a lot of stairs to climb. Visitors are rewarded as they ascend and look down through the central atrium – it seems to cant in at the bottom. The higher you go the more clear the shape becomes until you realize that it is a pint glass and you have been circling the outside.

    There are exhibits along the way of historic artifacts, and the history of the company, advertising over the years, and some interactives about responsible drinking. A tasting room where visitors can sample the beer in shot glasses is about half way up. Throughout there is consistent use of environmental graphics and an overall strategy of layering – multiple images, with text, with scenery/staging, with props, with media. The effect is almost like participating in a conversation. You can take in headlines, experience the environment, or absorb the information more deeply. It is slightly heady.

    In the lobby there is a small interactive that is unfortunately easy to miss. Here, visitors use a wall mounted webcam to take their photo and send a digital postcard to anyone they choose. The postcard essentially says “hello from the Guinness Factory.” What I liked about it was that it is easy to use, and a great example of how simple it can be to link museum visits to home via the web.

    When you leave the Guinness Storehouse, carrying the warm glow of a rich pint with you, you exit to the cobbled streets of historic Dublin. It takes a minute to navigate this narrow, twisty area. Reemerging onto the main street you feel strengthened both by the beer, and by the sense of history that you now carry with you.

Latest Comments (1)

wonderful description!

by Patricia Guerrero knight - August 24, 2010

This was a beautifully written review. The City of Dublin should pay to use it in their marketing & tourism materials!

I’ll be sending the link to my Irish father-in-law in hopes he’ll visit Dublin one day.

thanks!

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