Thirteen museums celebrated in Museum Standards Programme for Ireland Awards

14 Jul 2022

Thirteen museums were celebrated at a ceremony in Kilkenny Castle yesterday, 13 July 2022, having achieved official accreditation under the Heritage Council’s Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). Established to promote professional standards in museums, selection under the MSPI is a major accolade with accredited museums considered to have attained excellence across a range of areas.

The Irish museum sector has continued to embrace this programme with participation growing from an initial 12 museum sites in 2006, to 67 in 2022.

Because no two museums are the same, the path to accreditation is different for all participants. Whereas museums with large collections may encounter challenges relating to storage and upkeep of large volumes of material, the volunteers in smaller museums may struggle to find the time or motivation to reach the MSPI standards. Among the museums completing their journey to full accreditation, were the Allihies Copper Mine Museum (ACMM) and three National Museum of Ireland (NMI) sites; two very different museums which nonetheless share a sense of purpose and values:

  • Allihies Copper Mine Museum is a small rural museum located at the western tip of the Beara Peninsula in Cork. With an annual footfall of around 28,000, a collection of just over 300 items and run by a group of nine volunteers, their journey began in 1993 when a group of residents from the community came together to focus on Allihies’ mining heritage. Their commitment, coupled with participation in the MSPI, has resulted in the museum developing a formidable reputation both regionally and nationally.
  • On the other hand, the National Museum of Ireland is Ireland’s largest and oldest cultural institution with around 200 employees, over 1 million visitors annually and a vast collection of items spread out over five individual sites. Ensuring that its approach to safeguarding its collections met the standards as set out in the MSPI was a hugely complex operation, but one which they have fulfilled with aplomb.

Commenting at yesterday's award ceremony, the Chairperson of the Heritage Council, Martina Moloney, said:

“The growing number of museums participating in the MSPI is testament to the regard in which it is held by the sector. It is wonderful to see representatives from so many different museums here today, all of whom have worked so hard to ensure the best possible standards are met; a commitment that has hugely positive benefits for cultural life in Ireland, for visitors to the museums and tourism in the country generally.”

The museums receiving accreditation were:

Full Accreditation

  • Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Beara Peninsula
  • Irish Agricultural Museum, The Irish Heritage Trust, Johnstown Estate, Co. Wexford
  • National Museum of Ireland: Country Life
  • National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History
  • National Museum of Ireland Collections Resource Centre

Maintenance of Accreditation

  • Castletown, OPW
  • Clare Museum
  • County Museum, Dundalk
  • Heritage Centre: Royal College of Physicians of Ireland
  • Kerry Writers’ Museum
  • Pearse Museum, OPW

Interim Accreditation

  • Edward Worth Library
  • National Maritime Museum of Ireland, Dun Laoghaire

In congratulating the award winners, Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, said:

“It’s such a pleasure for me to welcome the award winners to this ceremony today to mark and celebrate the presentation of accreditation certificates under MSPI. This is the first live awards ceremony since 2019 after the online ceremonies held for 2020 and 2021’s award winners and so it is also only right that the certificate recipients from these years also be acknowledged today. These museums have worked very hard for their accreditation and richly deserve this recognition for their efforts.”

In 2019 the Heritage Council engaged CHL Consultants to conduct a review of the Programme. It delivered its report in June 2020. The Heritage Council adopted the recommendations of the report in 2021. A small ‘Task Force’ was appointed in 2022 to drive the implementation of recommendations, including updating some standards to reflect current museum practice and the Heritage Council’s strategic plan over the next 5 years. An online application system will also be developed. It is expected that this process will take two to three years.