Local Authority Museums Day - 21 May 2009
Support Your Local Museum on 21 May 2009
Inspiration and enjoyment are not words that you generally associate with a local authority. The county or town council is usually more closely identified with being a provider of services such as housing, roads, and water. Yet tucked away in many of Ireland’s local authorities is a place where people can find inspiration and enjoyment – the museum.
There are 13 local authority museums in the country, of various shapes and sizes, and funded variously by county, city and town councils. These museums collect, safeguard, hold in trust, research, develop and interpret collections of original objects for the public benefit. Local authority museums tell a local story, illustrating what is unique and special about a specific place and showing how it fits into a larger picture.
County and city museums collect objects that are primarily of local significance, and have a responsibility to do so on behalf of the State under the National Cultural Institutions Act and the National Monuments Act. This means that these objects can be displayed in a local context where they have a power and significance which would be greatly diluted if they remained in Dublin as part of the national collection that contains eye-catching show-stoppers.
As a showcase for the area the local museum obviously has an important role to play in cultural tourism. An attractive package can be created and marketed with other interested parties in the area in order to boost tourism. But the local authority museum is about so much more than attracting tourists, and in these cash-strapped times it is important to emphasise the benefits that the museum brings to the community that it serves.
Through education, community and outreach programmes the museum connects with a diverse range of people whose stories are often untold, or overlooked, unappreciated or unexplored. All local authorities now have a role in community development and social inclusion, and in this context the museum is a powerful tool. So for instance, working with a local school on a project over the course of a few months a museum education programme can help a newly arrived Romanian child come to terms with the community she now finds herself in, giving her a context and a sense of place. Or a reminiscence session with an active retired group in the museum, where people can handle objects and talk about them, can help older people still feel included and still feel a valued part of the community.
Solid, substantial work such as this happens in all of the local authority museums, often unheralded and under the radar. Quietly and unobtrusively, local museums have a powerful effect on their communities, giving sense of place and firing the imagination. So why not come out on 21st May for Local Authority Museums Day and re-discover your local museum – who knows what you might find.
Local Authority Museums Network
Chairperson –Eamonn McEneaney, Director, Waterford Treasures
+353 (0)51 304500
Secretary – Marie McMahon , Curator, South Tipperary County Museum
+353 (0)52 34551
Local Authority Museums Day
Thursday 21st May 2009
Contact each Local Authority Museum for additional information on scheduled museum events