I have a bizarre relationship with Nirvana. I grew up listening to them. Not because I was a kid with an advanced music taste (I was very much into S Club 7), but because my dad was constantly playing them. Now before you picture him with long hair and a leather jacket, my dad has a very eclectic music taste and isn’t usually into rock but he adores Nirvana, and in particular, Kurt Cobain. Of course, as a kid, when a parent is constantly blaring a certain band’s music, it isn’t usually the setting for you to love them too. While the lyrics and melodies had burned themselves into my brain, I was never interested in knowing more about them or listening to them by choice.
When I was fourteen and getting into rock, my then-best friend used to introduce me to all of the bands that she heard of through her young aunt who was really into the genre. I was amused when she tried to tell me about Nirvana. By that stage I already knew of their impact on the music scene and the legend that was Kurt Cobain so I decided to give them another try, and I liked them. Today, while they’re not a band I regularly listen to, I really like some of their songs and I can’t deny the impact they had on the world.
When I heard that there was going to be an exhibition of Kurt Cobain artefacts in Kildare, I was interested but hardly first in line for tickets. I saw social media blow up on the day of its opening as Kurt’s daughter, Frances Bean along with his sister, Kim and mother, Wendy attended the unveiling and then I quickly forgot all about it.
Then on Monday, my husband suggested we check it out as something different to do and I agreed in a shoulder-shrugging, ‘sure, why not?’ kind of way.
My husband, fifteen-week old, Indie and myself set off for Newbridge. We had no idea where we were going but we Google-mapped it and found it with no issues. You basically follow the M7 to Newbridge and then there are signs for Newbridge Silverware all the way along. It took us forty five minutes.
We had never been to Newbridge Silverware before so we had no idea what to expect. I had tried to look up their website before setting off but found it a little difficult to navigate. Online, they sell tickets for a guided tour of the Silverware factory (€12 or €15 combined with admission to the museum) which takes place three times a day or just admission to the museum for €7. Kids under 12 go free with an adult, and there are discounts for seniors and students. Looking it up now on my laptop it seems pretty straight forward so I don’t know if it was a case of baby brain or if it was something to do with navigating it on my phone that confused me. We didn’t buy tickets before arriving but there was no queue to do so when we got there. I would only consider booking ahead if you plan on taking the factory tour, as I heard people getting turned away for that as the tours had finished for the day.
We pulled in to the free car park and found a spot easily. Bear in mind, this was around three on a Monday afternoon so I can’t speak for how busy it would be at the weekend. As we approached the doorway, there was a large sky-blue car parked outside which a sign informed us was actually Kurt’s last car, a Dodge Dart. There was a security man nearby but no other patrons so we got to have a really good look and a little photoshoot with Indie.
We headed inside where signs pointed us in the direction of the Museum of Style Icons where the exhibition was taking place. We purchased our tickets and were directed towards the lift (as we had a buggy with us) by a very friendly member of staff who cooed over Indie. On arrival upstairs, the door opened to a corridor full of windows displaying dresses worn by Kim Kardashian.
I didn’t realise that there was more to the museum than the Kurt exhibit so I was delighted to see outfits displayed that were worn by Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and more. Some of the standout pieces for me were the outfit worn by Liza Minelli in Cabaret, the last mock-up of Princess Diana’s wedding dress and Tippi Hedren’s green outfit from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
As we wandered through the labyrinth, we spotted a room at the back where Nirvana’s music was eeking out. There were a few display cases outside of the room featuring Kurt memorabilia so if you’re hotfooting it straight for that, be careful not to miss them.
The exhibition featured a lot of Kurt’s childhood artwork, along with some baby pictures, an old lunchbox with his name engraved in it, and some of his favourite toys.
There are, of course, a number of Nirvana mementos including their 1992 MTV Moonman (I’ve always wanted to see one of those in the flesh after obsessing over the Music Awards for years!), some pieces of broken guitar that Kurt smashed on stage and some sketches of his for the In Utero album.
For me, the most iconic items on display were the striped t-shirt from the Smells Like Teen Spirit video and the white round sunglasses from his last ever photoshoot.
While I wasn’t absolutely dying to go and see this exhibit, while I was there, it did feel very special to see these things in person.
Afterwards, we went back downstairs to the massive Newbridge Silverware gift shop which includes a year-round Christmas shop that I got way too excited for. (Yes, I’m that bitch.) If, like myself, you are considering going with a baby, there is a pretty standard baby changing bathroom although no designated feeding room. However, there is a restaurant on the premises where I’m sure you could feed, if necessary. We didn’t wander into Cafe Carleton ourselves but the menu is available to view online. It looks lovely and not too pricey, with breakfasts in around a tenner and lunch options for no more than €14.50.
Instead we wandered to Whitewater Shopping Centre which is just across the way. We ate at Milano’s and I breastfed in public for the first time!
I then found myself in the H&M kids section (I’m obsessed) and we strolled two minutes down the street from the shopping centre to the three storey Penneys. The exhibition doesn’t take too long to get around so I would definitely consider coupling it with a shopping trip to make it feel more like a day out, particularly if you’re driving from Dublin or somewhere further afield.
Overall I did enjoy the exhibition, even if it was a little smaller than I expected. For €7, I think it is worth a look, and obviously if you are a massive Nirvana or Kurt Cobain fan, it is a must-see. While Indie doesn’t get much of a say in what we do, I would hesitate to bring young kids to it unless they have a particular passion for fashion as I just don’t think it would interest them.
Growing Up Kurt Cobain is running until September 30th and is open daily from 9.30am (10:30am on Sundays). Last admission is at 4:30pm.
All information is on the Newbridge Silverware website.
Nothing to declare. I was not a guest of the museum, nor asked to write this post. No affiliate links were used.