On Wednesday February 3rd, 2021, Carlow County Museum was presented with its Interim Accreditation award under the Museums Standard Programme for Ireland (MSPI) by the Heritage Council.
On International Museums Day 2020 Carlow County Museum received confirmation that it had been awarded this national accreditation, but, unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions the annual award presentation in Kilkenny Castle was cancelled. The rescheduled ceremony was hosted online by the Heritage Council with ten other institutions from across the country also receiving their awards.
The MSPI promotes professional standards in the care of collections in Irish museums and galleries. This award recognises Carlow Co. Museum’s achievement of those standards through accreditation across such areas as its governance, caring for its collection, its education programming, and its visitor care.
The process of achieving Interim or Full Accreditation is through a detailed application process followed by an onsite assessment. Museums usually achieve Interim Accreditation first, followed by an application for Full Accreditation approximately two years later. Museums are required to apply for Maintenance of the Accreditation every five years. The programme is open to all museum types across the country from national institutions, local authority museums, private, to voluntary and community museums.
The County Museum is operated by Carlow County Council in partnership with the Carlow Historical & Archaeological Society CHAS) and is the first museum in the county to both participate in the MSPI programme and to be accredited. Cllr. Ken Murnane, Chairperson of the Board of Carlow County Museum, said “it is a very high honour for the Museum to be awarded this prestigious accreditation and congratulations to all involved.”
Virginia Teehan, Chief Executive of the Heritage Council, said that for any museum achieving MSPI Accreditation requires great work and commitment. Today is a day of celebration for the Irish museum community.
Guest speaker for the occasion was Professor Kathleen James-Chakraborty, Art and Architectural Historian at UCD, and she spoke about her life-long interest in museums and the importance they play for society and that in many cases we the citizens of a country collectively own these institutions and they provide us with inspiration for our eyes and our minds.
Michael Parsons, Chairperson of the Heritage Council, stated that the MSPI programme is a significant activity to promote our cultural sector and that investment in our museums and the many historic buildings they occupy is important.
The assessment of Carlow County Museum was undertaken by Helen Lanigan Wood, retired Curator of Fermanagh County Museum, and Dr Hugh Maguire, former Director of the Hunt Museum Limerick, and they stated in their report that the “Museum has benefitted from a considered, and measured, development over many years. The Museum project complements the Council’s ongoing, and significant, commitment to a range of well-regarded cultural and heritage projects across the county, many of national significance.”
Dermot Mulligan, Museum Curator stated that “this is an extraordinary achievement for the Museum, which is a partnership between Carlow County Council and CHAS. I am cognisant of so many contributions over our forty-seven-year history to ensure we were awarded this accreditation, from our staff, to our loyal volunteers, our local authority support, and the foresight of CHAS to establish the Museum and to operate it for its first thirty years on a voluntary basis. MSPI gives us a structure for what we do each day as well as affording us a method to plan for the longer term by devising strategic plans for future endeavours and ambitions.”
Padraig Dooley, President of CHAS said “I wish to congratulate Carlow County Museum on being awarded Interim Accreditation. This wonderful achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the current and former staff and the many volunteers at our local County Museum. When CHAS first looked for loans of exhibits for their volunteer-led museum in College St. back in the 1970s, little would those pioneers have thought that one day we would have such a fine museum, run to the high standards, as we now have in Carlow. It is on the backs of those many volunteers over all the years that we can be immensely proud of today’s achievement. This museum belongs to all of us in County Carlow.”
Kathleen Holohan, Chief Executive, Carlow County Council, stated that “a lot of hard work was involved in making this submission and achieving the standards required of the programme. Successfully achieving this accreditation is of enormous benefit to the County Museum”. She congratulates Dermot Mulligan, John McDarby, Martin O’Rourke, Paul Dunne and former staff as well as the many volunteers, the Museum Board, Carlow Co Council (Members & staff) and CHAS.
Also celebrating MSPI awards are: Cork Public Museum, Glebe House & Gallery OPW, IFI The Irish Film Archive, Kilmainham Gaol OPW, Little Museum of Dublin, Hunt Museum Limerick, The Shackleton Museum (formerly Athy Heritage Centre-Museum), Fota House, Irish Heritage Trust, Waterford Treasures: Bishop’s Palace and Waterford Treasures: Medieval Museum.