Annual Conference

The 2017 Annual Conference, Cultural Tourism and the Contemporary Museum will take place in Galway (Town Hall Theatre) on 3 and 4 March 2017, in association with Galway City Museum.

Click here to visit the dedicated 2017 Conference website and make an online booking or scroll to the end of this page to download a registration form.

The IMA organises a themed annual conference each spring, offering an opportunity for members of the museum community to meet, network and discuss issues of relevance for the Irish museum sector.


The 2017 conference will - under the title Cultural Tourism and the Contemporary Museum - invite members and professionals working in (and with) museums and other cultural institutions to examine and debate the principles for successful and sustainable cultural heritage tourism and the museums' role in its development. How museums can attract visitors while at the same time preserving the authenticity that makes them unique and attractive in the first place?

Cultural heritage tourism is one of the key drivers within the tourism industry and is a powerful economic development tool. With a large percentage of visitors to Ireland participating in cultural activities through visits to museums, the importance of our collection-based institutions in attracting both national and international tourists is beyond doubt.

Many museums find they must prioritise tourist visitors and prove their worth to the local and national economy in order to secure public funding and other revenue streams in an increasingly challenging financial climate. As a result, they need to gain a better understanding of tourist behaviour and be able to produce meaningful data which reflects their contribution to the cultural tourism sector. Developing their potential to attract tourists has become a key factor for many museums when it comes to the creation of effective and sustainable development strategies. Despite the greater focus on issues such as self-generated revenues and marketing opportunities, museums must also continue to meet their core responsibilities in relation to caring, preserving and exhibiting their collections and fulfilling their educational mandate.


The IMA has invited and selected speakers from the museum, cultural heritage and tourism sectors to respond to the above brief, including:

• Chris BAILEY, Northern Ireland Museums Council
• John CONCANNON, Director, Creative Ireland
• Michael DAY, Chief Executive, Historic Royal Palaces
• Emily MARK-FITZGERALD, Lecturer, School of Art History and Cultural Policy, University College Dublin
• Lee JOLLIFFE, Professor, Hospitality and Tourism, University of New Brunswick, Canada
• Claudia KOHLER, Education, Community & Outreach Officer, Kerry County Museum
• Paddy MATHEWS, Head of Investment & Innovation, Fáilte Ireland.
• Dr Bridget MCCONNELL CBE, Chief Executive, Glasgow Life
• Eamonn MCENEANEY, Director, Waterford Museum of Treasures - three museums in the Viking Triangle
• Simon O'CONNOR, Curator, Little Museum of Dublin
• Fiona ROSS, Director, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
• Aoife RUANE, Director, Highlanes Gallery
• Frank SHALVEY, Principal Officer, National Monuments, Office of Public Works
• Kathryn THOMSON, Chief Executive, National Museums Northern Ireland
• Eithne VERLING, Director, Galway City Museum

The full list of Speakers, biographies and abstracts will be available to access and download from the 30 January, 2016.


The Conference is scheduled to run from 10:30am, Friday 3 March until 5pm, Saturday 4 March 2017. Please note, that - in consideration of the constrained resources faced by many of our members - the conference dinner will take place on the evening of Friday 3 March. A detailed programme will be available to download from 30 January 2017.


The Conference hotel is the Harbour Hotel, New Dock Road, Galway. Bed and Breakfast, Friday 3 March: €129; Saturday 4 March: €159. Please contact the hotel directly to make your booking by Email: or Tel.: +353 91 894800 and state 'Irish Museums Association' on the booking request.

Please note that Galway has a wide range of accommodation options to suit different price ranges, however early booking is highly recommended.

The Town Hall Theatre is located on 1 Courthouse Square, Galway. Click here for location map.

Galway is located approximately 2.5 hours from Dublin and 4 hours from Belfast. There is ample public transport and car-sharing opportunities, see the following websites for details and bookings:´╗┐

Parking: If on street parking spaces are unavailable, there are car parks at the Cathedral (5 mins walk) and the Dyke Road (7 mins walk). Click here for Galway parking information.


Click here to view registration fees, available for the full conference, individual days and the conference dinner. Early Bird and Concession rates are available for bookings and payment made before the 3 February 2017.

Click here to download a registration form and payment details.


Click here to email conference organiser, Gina O'Kelly, for further information