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Eleven of Ireland’s Museums recognised for high standards under Heritage Council’s Museum Standards Programme for Ireland

Irish Museums among best in world

26th June, 2013: Eleven of Ireland’s museums were today recognised for high standards in the management of the museum, care of collections and visitor services by the Heritage Council under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland.

The Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cavan County Museum, Drogheda Museum Millmount, Kerry County Museum and South Tipperary County Museum were all awarded full accreditation; while Trinity College Zoological Museum, Allihies Copper Mine Museum in the Beara Penisula, Athy Heritage Centre Museum, and Donaghmore Workhouse and Agricultural Museum were awarded interim accreditation; and Knock Museum and the National Print Museum were awarded maintenance of full accreditation.

These museums will now join 43 other museums nationwide that have been recognised for high standards under the Programme. The Museum Standards Programme, the first of its kind in Ireland is an important initiative which sets out to improve all aspects of Ireland’s museum practice and in particular raise the standards of care for collections across Irish museums and galleries. A voluntary programme, it has attracted involvement from across the cultural spectrum from national institutions to small, volunteer led organisations. To date of the 54 participants in the programme, 20 museums have achieved full accreditation and 10 have been awarded interim accreditation.

The Heritage Council’s continued commitment to care of collections is demonstrated through its support of the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland. Speaking about the Programme, Michael Starrett, Heritage Council Chief Executive said, “With a renewed focus on tourism and the economic potential it offers, there is increased pressure to ensure the cultural experience we are offering visitors is of high quality. Ireland’s museum sector has met this challenge to provide world class standards in the management of the museum, care of collections and visitor services, despite a continued cut in funding.

Accreditation under this Programme offers quality assurance to visitors that the museums they are visiting are adhering to a high set of standards. It is fantastic to see eleven museums being recognised here today for the high standards they have achieved. It is now crucial that the museum sector, which has worked hard to ensure what they are offering is of high standard is promoted and supported as a key tourism attraction”.

The Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) aims to benchmark and raise professional minimum standards in the museum sector. Within the Programme, there are seven categories consisting of 34 standards, 25 of which are interim standards and nine are full. A voluntary programme, it has attracted involvement from across the cultural spectrum — from national institutions to small, volunteer-led organisations.

An application for interim accreditation takes three years to complete, while full accreditation takes five years. When first launched in 2006 the Programme had 12 participants, today there are 54 museums participating.

“The Council is delighted to award full, interim and maintenance accreditation to these museums today. Each of these museums has been working towards this award for a number of years. This achievement reflects their hard work and continued dedication to the Programme”, commented Mr. Starrett.

Judges Comments

Full Accreditation 2013

Cavan County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan
Even with reduced staffing levels and limited resources the Cavan County Museum offers an interesting and varied programme of events, and continually strives to meet best practice in all areas of museum work. In addition to an excellent education and events programme, the Museum has implemented many improvements to safeguard the collection including new lighting systems in the display cases and gallery.

Drogheda Museum Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth
Drogheda Museum Millmount is the first volunteer run museum in the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland to be recommended for Full Accreditation. The assessors commented that the museum is to be congratulated on the enormous steps taken to meet the standards, adding, “when museums with permanent full-time professional staff do not find the process easy it must be doubly so for a community museum drawing on the resources of volunteers and changing Community Employment Scheme staff”.

Lewis Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork
The Lewis Glucksman Gallery is a not-for-profit cultural and educational gallery that promotes the research, creation and exploration of the visual arts. Its mission is to enhance the cultural and intellectual life of the university community and the wider community through the exhibition and interpretation of art. Since joining the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland in 2007 the Lewis Glucksman Gallery has made excellent progress with a high level of collection management and interpretation.

Kerry County Museum, Tralee, Co. Kerry
In 2009, Kerry County Museum was awarded Museum of the Year in Ireland. The sense that high standards underpin every aspect of the Museum was confirmed by Kerry County Museum’s recommendation for Full Accreditation this year. The Museum has links with major museums and collections both within Ireland and without, and has developed a widespread reputation as a model small museum. The recommendation for Full Accreditation reflects not only huge credit on the Museum’s staff, but also acknowledges the Town Council’s Elected Members and senior managers, who clearly have been enthusiastic supporters of the Museum and its work.”

South Tipperary County Museum, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
South Tipperary County was recommended for Full Accreditation by assessors because it is an exceptionally innovative, active and outgoing institution with excellent modern permanent display galleries and an ambitious and high-achieving educational programme. The Museum also operates an excellent conservation programme. The Museum is well regarded in its county and region and is noteworthy for its co-operative strategy with other arts and heritage groups or local authority officers.
Maintenance of Full Accreditation 2013

Knock Museum, Knock Shrine, Co. Mayo
Knock Museum has successfully reapplied for Full Accreditation in the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland having originally been awarded full accreditation status in 2009. Following a return site-visit to the museum its Assessor wrote, “the Museum has continued to make good use of the MSPI scheme, to acquire both knowledge and contacts. It has increased its display standard and its visitor facilities, while also maintaining a high quality conservation facility and professional documentation system. It is an example of good practice in a small museum. In addition to a good temporary exhibition programme, the Museum has benefited from Knock Shrine’s development of a bright, new cheerful café, adjoining the Museum and sharing the Museum’s entrance, providing a high quality extension to the Museum and bringing new, regular users to the complex as a whole. The Museum took advantage of the development to professionally re-design its shop and entrance areas, providing a brighter and more welcoming experience for visitors.”

National Print Museum, Dublin 4
National Print Museum has successfully reapplied for Full Accreditation in the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland having originally been awarded full accreditation status in 2009. Following a return visit to the site its Assessor wrote, “All involved in the National Print Museum’s application for the Maintenance of Full Accreditation are to be congratulated on an application of a very high standard which reflects the continued professionalism and commitment of the staff and Board members. In challenging financial times all the core elements of the Museum have been maintained and successful grant applications have allowed the Museum to make excellent improvements to its permanent displays. The development of educational services has also been impressive, reflecting the value of having a full-time education officer post: guided tours are now offered around Beggars Bush Barracks as well as within the Museum, and there is an excellent programme of lectures, workshops, demonstration days and training seminars on offer as well as National events such as Heritage Week, Culture Night, Children’s Book Festival, Bealtaine, Science Week and Open House Junior. Particularly noteworthy is the addition of an attractive and well-designed education space funded through sponsorship and creating a very welcoming area for families and children.”

Interim Accreditation 2013

Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork
In recommending Interim Accreditation the Programme’s Assessors noted that the development of the museum by the community is a very impressive achievement. It is housed in a former Methodist Chapel, built in 1845 for the Cornish miners that came to area, with a well-designed modern extension containing a café and temporary exhibition space. The museum has impressive displays which explain the geology, mining techniques and the development of the mines in the Allihies area. This is complemented by a published ‘Allihies Copper Mine trail’ guide leaflet, which enables visitors to explore the surrounding landscape. In 2012, the museum was presented with both the President’s Award and the AIA Initiative Award from the Association for Industrial Archaeology in recognition of the community’s impressive achievements in developing the museum and interpreting the history of the copper mines. Assessors said it is ‘a splendid example of a museum rooted in, and supporting, its community and all those involved are to be congratulated on the development so far’.
Athy Heritage Centre-Museum, Athy, Co. Kildare
In recommending Interim Accreditation, the Programme’s Assessors noted atht they were impressed by the quality of the collections at Athy Heritage Centre Museum and the enthusiasm and commitment of staff and board. They said the museum and its board (supported by Athy Town Council and Kildare County Council) had made steady progress towards meeting all the standards required for Interim Accreditation. staff and governing body have worked hard to become a deeply embedded community resource that mounts a very active exhibition, events and educational programme including its international Shackleton Autumn School.

Donaghmore Workhouse and Agricultural Museum, Co. Laois
The recommendation of Interim Accreditation is a major achievement for Donaghmore Workhouse and Agricultural Museum, housed in two adjacent, but separate wings of an isolated and atmospheric 19th century Workhouse building located in Co. Laois. This volunteer managed museum was one of the first to apply to join the Programme after its launch in 2006. From the beginning it showed a commitment to understand what is required to meet good practice in caring for collections and managing a museum. Since joining MSPI the museum applied for and received grants from the Heritage Council to help it develop appropriate museum policies and implement caring for collections standards. In its recommendation for Interim Accreditation its Assessors wrote, “the Museum has made very substantial progress across a wide range of criteria. Substantial effort has gone into the issue of collections care. This is a particular achievement for this Museum, given its voluntary status.”

Zoological Museum, Trinity College Dublin
The Zoological Museum, located in the Zoology Department, Trinity College Dublin, cares for and displays collections dating back to 18th century expeditions. It is a significant resource for students and visiting researchers and also opens by appointment to the public. In recommending Interim Accreditation MSPI Assessors wrote, “Impressive progress across a wide range of fronts has been made in a relatively short period of time. The Museum has benefitted directly from the Curator’s expertise in the area of collections care in that procedures and process have been defined and the recent refurbishment of storage areas have provided improved environments for the collections”.