Second “Famine Folio” collection wins first place

By on October 20, 2016
Famine Folio’s are housed in the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum on Whitney Ave.photo courtesy of Claire Puzarne

Famine Folio’s are housed in the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum on Whitney Ave.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’s second “Famine Folio” collection won first place in the 2016 Museum Publications Design Competition for books. The competition was held by the American Alliance of Museums, the leading museum organization in the country.

The Famine Folios publication released by the Hunger Museum states that they are a part of the museum’s publication series of short interdisciplinary essays, which are devised to complement the museum’s collection.

The Famine Folios are described as being a tool for everyone who wants to learn about the Great Hunger, which is known as being the worst devastation of a single population in Europe that century, according to the Famine Folios publication released by the Hunger Museum.

The Museum Publication Design Competition includes many different categories including posters, newsletters, magazines and books.

The competition is the only national juried competition of its kind. In this competition, the winners are judged by graphic designers, museum professionals and publishers on their design excellence, creativity and the expression of personality, mission or special features, according to the Museum Publication Design Competition description.

Both the university and the museum are very proud of this accomplishment.

“The recognition from our peers at the leading museum institution in the United States is huge for us,” Museum Manager Claire Puzarne said. “We’re very honored to be recognized and are honored to have our work recognized.”

However, this is not the Hunger Museum’s first recognition. They have also received several awards from the New England Museum Association (NEMA) including second place for the Famine Folios in NEMA’s 2015 Publication Awards for books, as well as honorable mention for their “Soup Postcards” in the Supplementary Materials part of the same competition.

“Quinnipiac is also delighted at the success of the museum. The university is hugely supportive to us, and we are proud to be part of Quinnipiac,” Puzarne said.

Although the unique Famine Folios are separate from the museum’s collection, Puzarne stated that the Famine Folios are richly illustrated, and the content complements the museum’s collection. Some content in the Folios can be seen and further explored in the collection at the museum.

For those who are unable to make a trip to the museum, a great aspect of the Famine Folios is that they could supplement the museum experience to a degree. The Folios help carry on the museum’s mission outside of the museum.

“The Folios have really been great in spreading the word about the museum and allowing new people to learn about the museum and to learn more about the Great Hunger, which is really the museum’s mission, to educate audiences of all ages about the Great Hunger in Ireland,” Puzarne said. “This is a way for us to do that. I think the more we produce, the more people learn which is great and really helps us advance our mission.”

The Famine Folios’ contributors come from a number of backgrounds including Quinnipiac’s own Robert Smart, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, according to the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum Famine Folio pamphlet provided by Puzaren. His 2015 collection consists of “Notice to Quit: The Great Irish Famine Evictions” by L. Perry Curtis Jr., a retired professor from Brown University, Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh’s “I mBéal an Bháis: The Great Famine and the Language Shift in nineteenth-century Ireland,” Smart’s own work, “Black Roads: The Famine in Irish Literature” and “Death in Every Paragraph: Journalism and the Great Irish Famine,” written by Michael Foley.

The series was edited by Grace Brady, the executive director of the museum and Niamh O’Sullivan, the museum’s curator. Rachael Foley, who was contracted from and lives in Ireland, designed the collection.

This is the second series of Famine Folios that the museum has released.

The first set of folios included titles such as “Monuments, Memorials and Visualizations of the Great Famine in Ireland,” “The Tombs of a Departed Race” and more. The first series was originally released in the fall of 2015.

The 2016 collection has not been released yet. The titles include: “An Angle of Death? Political Economy and the Great Irish Famine,” “Workhouse,” “Across the Western Ocean: Songs of Leaving and Arriving” and more.

The variety in title topics show that the Famine Folios have something that will appeal to people of all backgrounds. The museum is similar in that way.

The Hunger Museum’s website has more information on future and present Folios.

Many Quinnipiac classes across all disciplines come to the museum, whether it’s from the medical school, a history class or an English class. But those classes that do not go often don’t mention the museum at all.

“Not a lot of attention in class is brought to the museum so a lot of people don’t know about it. It’s just something you drive by on Whitney,” senior Mark Elsesser said.

With the variety in the museum’s collection, the museum could be a valuable resource for many classes, according to Puzarne.

“I would like to think there is something for everyone to see here,” Puzarne said. “I think it’s a really interesting story that we tell here at the museum. A lot of people wonder if you have to be Irish to come to the museum. You definitely don’t. It’s a human story, and I think everyone can relate to different aspects of it.”

The museum is not currently open due to construction, but it is set to reopen on Nov. 2. Puzarne said when the museum reopens, it will have a new display on a Connecticut resident, Elihu Burritt, who warned the United States of the famine after going to Ireland and journaled about what was happening there. The museum hopes to set up more exhibits in the future as well, according to Puzarne.

The third set of Folios will be released at the Eisner and Lubin Auditorium at New York University on Oct. 28 as part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional American Conference for Irish Studies, according to the Mid-Atlantic Regional ACIS Conference event website.

Freshman Cauley Comerford has never been to the museum, but knew about the museum’s recent achievement.

“My FYS (First Year Seminar) class wanted to go down as a field trip to experience the cultural aspects of the Irish Famine and the impact it had on Irish culture,” Comerford said.

Comerford said her class has not made it to the museum yet.

This is a common response of the students at Quinnipiac. The museum would like to encourage student involvement. The museum director hopes more students get involved with the museum. “We’d love for more students to come to the museum, and I would love to work with students more closely to see what they would like to see here and to see how they could be involved,” she said.

Puzarne said the museum would also be happy to have interns if there is any student interest.

The museum also puts on different events, which students are welcomed to attend, according to Puzarne. On average, they offer between 10 to 20 programs per year, including music and lectures. This winter, the museum will be hosting a Christmas celebration co-sponsored by Lucky Ewe Irish Goods in Hamden, where they will serve coffee and cookies in addition to goods sold by the local store.

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