Screenshot from the MSPI awards ceremony, Source: The Heritage Council/Facebook

Irish museums reinvent themselves in response to Covid-19 fallout

Irish museums reinvent themselves in response to Covid-19 fallout

11 museums were awarded accreditation under the prestigious Museum Standards Programme for Ireland

11 museums across Ireland received or maintained their accreditation under the prestigious Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). Award-winners were announced in 2020 but last year’s ceremony was suspended due to the Covid-19 restrictions. At long last, the certificates of distinction were presented at a special online ceremony on Wednesday.

The gold standard of Irish museums

MSPI was established by the Heritage Council to benchmark and promote professional standards in the sector. The accreditation awards are seen as a major accolade now that Irish museums have to reinvent themselves in response to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

To receive the coveted accreditation, a museum must meet standards across seven areas, including management and governance, collections management, and visitor services. Since the programme’s inception in 2007, a total of 118 certificates have been awarded and 43 museums have received full accreditation. Recipients range from respectable national cultural institutions to museums run by local authorities, universities and small volunteer groups.

During the online ceremony, Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, said: “I would like to acknowledge what a very challenging year it has been for the heritage sector. Many of the sites that both bring us joy - and inspire us in equal measure – were closed for much of 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Some of the accredited museums have had to change how they do business, thinking up new ways in which to bring heritage to the people through technology. I applaud that ingenuity.”

Michael Parsons, Chairman of the Heritage Council, recalled: “When we began this programme in 2007, we had 12 participants and 14 sites – we now have 59 participants in 65 sites which is really great to see. This programme is the gold standard for Irish museums. Taking approximately five years to achieve full accreditation (interim accreditation usually after three years), it is a commitment on behalf of the participants.”

Here are the 11 accreditation winners:

  • The Glebe House and Gallery, OPW, Co Donegal – Full accreditation.
  • The IFI Irish Film Archive, Dublin – Full accreditation.
  • Kilmainham Gaol Museum, OPW, Dublin – Full accreditation
  • The Little Museum of Dublin - Full accreditation
  • Fota House, The Irish Heritage Trust, Co Cork – Maintenance of full accreditation
  • The Hunt Museum, Limerick city – Maintenance of full accreditation
  • Shackleton Museum, Co Kildare – Maintenance of full accreditation
  • Waterford Treasures: Bishop’s Palace and Medieval Museum – Maintenance of full accreditation
  • Carlow County Museum – Interim accreditation
  • Cork Public Museum – Interim accreditation.                                       

Involving local communities

Established by the Irish government under the 1995 Heritage Act, the Heritage Council provides policy advice for government on issues that cover both the cultural and natural aspects of the national heritage, including sustainability, landscape management, high nature value farming, forestry and climate change. The organization is working closely with local communities to support jobs, education and heritage tourism in local areas.

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