Atlantic Edge Exhibition
This visitor centre serves Ireland’s most-visited natural heritage site which welcomes a million visitors a year. It succeeds magnificently in offering world-class visitor and interpretation facilities that are housed inside a building hidden below the contours of the cliff-top hill. It makes no detrimental visual impact on the environment or wild spirit of the coast. What could have felt like a ‘bunker’ experience inside is in fact well-lit, lofty and spacious, cleverly drawing visitors to explore its many different areas and to discover the many well-presented displays related to the cliffs and the wider environment.
The thematic arrangement of the exhibition areas use hi-tech, and simpler, mechanisms to explain a range of topics with interactive table-top screens showing the movement of tectonic plates, the creation of the Cliffs and climatic patterns in a novel and arresting way. The story wall presents a range of human inter-relationships with the cliffs and the relatively inhospitable environment that is home to such a variety of seabird and marine life. This is shown to great advantage in the ‘Ledge’ which gives visitors a virtual puffin’s eye view of the dizzying, vertiginous experience of being at the edge of the Cliffs.
We particularly enjoyed being taught how to play the children’s interactive computer game based around prey and predator – we didn’t survive as well as our young mentor.
In addition to the absorbing and well-considered and planned displays, the centre has excellent shops and catering facilities and very professional staff. Outside, on the real cliffs, further interpretation (including a memorable wall of riven sheets of stone) and helpful and well-informed wardens are available to provide further explanation and to engender further enthusiasm about the site. The judges agreed that, despite – or perhaps because of – the huge investment in the whole site, this was one of the best interpretive facilities they had seen.
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