For over a million visitors annually, experiencing the treasures housed within Trinity College Dublin’s hallowed halls is a pilgrimage of its own. Among the prized manuscripts is one of Ireland’s most celebrated artifacts – the Book of Kells. Now, a new identity breathes modern vibrancy into this ancient work of art through an immersive digital experience. Let’s explore everything you need to know about the Book of Kells Experience, and why you should visit it.
What is the Book of Kells?
The Book of Kells is a ninth-century manuscript that contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, along with some other texts and illustrations. It is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of medieval illumination and as a masterpiece of Celtic art. The Book of Kells is famous for its intricate and colorful decorations, its elaborate symbols and motifs, and its artistic and religious significance. The Book of Kells was created by a group of monks, who are believed to have started the work in a monastery on the island of Iona in Scotland, and then moved to the monastery of Kells in Ireland, after a Viking raid. The Book of Kells has survived many centuries of wars, thefts, fires, and damages, and is now preserved and displayed in the Old Library of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s oldest university.
A Journey Through the Ages
The Book of Kells Experience is an immersive digital journey that takes you through the history and design of the Book of Kells. It is set within a specially constructed pavilion on the grounds of Trinity College, designed by the architectural firm Heneghan Peng. The pavilion is a sustainable and unique temporary structure, that houses the digital presentation while the Library undergoes some restoration work.
The Book of Kells Experience allows you to first see the Book of Kells in the Old Library, and to admire the beauty of the Long Room, a stunning 18th-century library that holds over 200,000 books. Encased within a temporary red pavilion, the ‘Book of Kells Experience’ transports guests on a 1,200-year journey. From its origins in Iona to contemporary Dublin, visitors view the illuminated pages’ intricate details up close within the Old Library’s storied walls.
Bridging Past and Present
The Book of Kells Experience is designed by Pentagram, one of the world’s leading design firms. The design team, led by Domenic Lippa, created a bold and modern identity for the experience, that still feels authentic and respectful of the book’s heritage. The identity which sensitively weaves together tradition and technology includes a logo, typeface, color palette, tone of voice, staff clothing, merchandise, marketing material, signage, and wayfinding.
The logo is a striking symbol that represents the Book of Kells itself, a bold, impactful presence with elegant details. It was inspired by the details of illuminated pages in the book and by ancient Celtic artifacts. The typeface is Rand by Optimo, a contemporary font that combines modern and unique characters, similar to the scriptures in the book. This custome typeface echoes the manuscript’s elegant script. Warm hues from its pages complement a core black, white, and vibrant red palette. The color palette is based on the hues found in the book’s decorations and echoes the red pavilion. Together, these elements illuminate the experience for digital and physical touchpoints alike.
The tone of voice and campaign copy were developed by Pentagram’s Brand Narrative team, led by Ashley Johnson. They aim to tell the story of the experience from the viewpoint of a visitor, with each strapline relating to a unique part of the experience. The identity appears across all the online and offline applications, creating a consistent and engaging visual language.
Why Should You Visit the Book of Kells Experience?
The Book of Kells Experience is a must-see attraction for anyone who loves history, art, and design. It is a rare chance to see one of the world’s most precious and ancient manuscripts and to learn about its fascinating history and design. It is also a great way to discover the beauty and heritage of Trinity College and its Old Library and to enjoy the innovative and sustainable architecture and design of the pavilion and the digital presentation.
The Book of Kells Experience is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm, and you can book your tickets online or at the entrance. The experience lasts about an hour, and it is suitable for all ages and backgrounds. You can also visit the gift shop and the cafe, and browse through the merchandise and the books inspired by the Book of Kells.
The Big Picture
The Book of Kells Experience is a remarkable attraction that showcases one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful manuscripts. It combines the historical and artistic aspects of the book with a stunning design by Pentagram. It invites visitors to explore the book’s journey, inspiration, and legacy in a captivating and immersive way.
* All images and media used are a courtesy of pentagram.com