Fund a Cobble – was a crowdfunding project organised in May 2020 by The Hunt Museum in Co. Limerick along with support from many local charities, schools, and colleges in the area. The idea of “Fund a Cobble” project was to construct an outdoor museum and give people an opportunity to share their condolences to those who passed away, by having people donate a small fee to have a cobblestone engraved with a message to be placed in the outdoor museum.
The total cost of the project was going to be an estimated €80,000 but fortunately, The Friends of The Hunt Museum had donated over €30,000 in donations towards the project. In May 2020, “Fund a Cobble” project set a €15,000 target on their crowdfunding on fundit.ie, they had several options for donations ranging from €5-€500. People had to donate a minimum of €12.50 to get a name engraved on a cobble to be placed within the outdoor museum. In August 2020 after 6 weeks their fundraiser was completed, they raised €17,760 and were backed by over 224 funders. The additional funding needed to make up the €80,000 would be donated outside their campaign.
The crowdfunding campaign creates another sense of community that the Hunt Meusem were trying to capture, which they did sussessfully.
The Hunt Museum held a nationwide competition for the best design for the outdoor museum; it was won by Nicola Haines. Due to Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland during the past year it was difficult for people to visit the Museum, as it was closed most of the period for indoor visits. With “Fund a Cobble” project, they wanted to remove the metal railings surrounding the back of the museum, to give outdoor space for the outdoor museum along with creating seating areas and community gardens. The Hunt Museum had plans to 3D-scan at least 7 of their museum artefacts and sculptures, and replicate them into supersized ones to place around the outdoor museum. The project was to be non-profit with donations to be spent on the outdoor museum for improvements or maintenance.
Once the crowdfunding amount was met, they began to get to work on the project as early as September 2020. It was a community-based project and received lots of support from local volunteers. They began by removing metal railings at the back of The Hunt Museum which was needed to make room for the outdoor museum. They created gardens, outdoor seating areas, park benches and tables for picnics and even a large garden chess set.
There is one of the seven supersized sculptures completed so far. The sculpture that was completed was “The Olmec Man”, local transition-year students digitised it and it was then completed using 3D printing technology with help from ESB and Limerick School of Art and Design. There have been hundreds of carved cobblestones done by local stone masons and volunteers. There is also a photo collection of completed carved cobblestones with people’s condolences or messages to see on The Hunt Museum website.
Since they began working on the project, they were still receiving donations online through the museum's website rather than on crowdfunding websites like they did before. Work was supposed to be completed by spring of 2021 but was delayed until summer. It was announced that the outdoor museum would open on the 24th of June 2021, and it was officially called “Museum in a Garden”. The mayor of Limerick officially opened the museum, and the event was attended by many of the local community and press.
The opening of the “Museum in a Garden” is still relatively new and is not fully completed. There are plans to use the garden to hold events in the near future which will provide additional income. There is still some funding needed for the remaining 6 supersized sculptures and the original donation rewards from the original crowdfund are still available on the Museum’s website.
Overall, the project was a success, the local community really played a key part with the project as shown with all the support and donations they contributed. “The Hunt Museum” acknowledged that without the crowdfunding, the project would not have went ahead. Only one of the seven large sculptures produced was a big disappointment, they seemed to underestimate the cost of producing them.
With crowdfunding today and with the increase in prices for products and materials as of late, people should analyse the cost of raw materials to gather info to see if some materials costs are increasing or decreasing. It will give you a better idea of how much you would need to spend, as costs of materials have been fluctuating as an effect from the Covid-19 pandemic. In the case of the “Museum in a Garden”, you would suspect that material costs for the six remaining outdoor sculptures would have increased compared to their original budgeting.
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