Michael Davitt Museum Achieves Top National Award from The Heritage Council of Ireland

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The Michael Davitt Museum is one of ten recipients awarded at an awards ceremony in Kilkenny Castle, in recognition of the important ongoing work that is being done in the sector to protect their collections, enhance their services and provide excellent levels of customer service to their visitors.

A museum of Michael Davitt’s life and work with the National Land League has today achieved the highest standard possible under a museum national standards programme run by the Heritage Council. The Michael Davitt Museum, located in a restored pre-penal church in the village of Straide, Co. Mayo, Davitt’s birthplace, contains an extensive collection of historical artefacts connected with Michael Davitt’s life and his seminal work with the National Land League. The award acknowledges the museum’s persistence and perseverance in professionalising the care of its important collection and the service it offers to local, national and international communities connected by his story.  

Established by the Heritage Council in 2006 to benchmark and promote professional standards in the care of collections, the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) has attracted involvement across the cultural spectrum, from national institutions to small, volunteer-led organisations. A testament to the continued dedication and professionalism of those in sector in 2019, the Michael Davitt Museum is one of 65 museums and galleries to benefit from participation in the MSPI to date. While recognising the achievement of standards through accreditation, the MSPI is also about supporting the museum community as a whole. Its participants engage in a range of processes, which help to secure Ireland’s collections for future generations and to engage its visitors with what those collections have to offer. 

The Michael Davitt Museum is one of ten recipients awarded at an awards ceremony in Kilkenny Castle, in recognition of the important ongoing work that is being done in the sector to protect their collections, enhance their services and provide excellent levels of customer service to their visitors. The rigorous assessment process requires museums to meet each of 34 internationally recognised MSPI standards ensuring the highest standards in visitor services, collections care and governance.

 Speaking at the Heritage Council’s Museum Standards Programme for Ireland awards ceremony today, Mr John Paul Phelan TD, Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform spoke about the significance of the cultural sector in Ireland and in particular to Kilkenny,  

Maintaining and cherishing our museums is of great importance to me and it is very appropriate that this ceremony is taking place in Kilkenny, where culture and heritage are at the core of what happens here.  High standards of care for our heritage and  investment in high quality design will ensure we pass on a proud legacy for future generations. 

At a local level there has been great work done to raise the standards of care across Irish museums, and I would like to congratulate and thank all those involved, especially those who are receiving awards here today”.

Chairman of the Heritage Council, Mr Michael Parsons, said, 

“I applaud each of the recipients awarded today and acknowledge the significance of achieving accreditation after many years engaged with the process. These awards demonstrate very clearly the mammoth work being done by a dedicated and resourceful sector, often against the backdrop of limited resources, to ensure the collections in their care are safeguarded and made accessible to the public.

I would also like to acknowledge three of the recipients awarded - Knock Museum, the National Gallery of Ireland and the National Print Museum – who have participated in the MSPI awards since the pilot study and commend their continued support of the Programme for nearly 20 years.”

Today’s accreditations followed an extensive assessment programme carried out by national and international experts.  Of the ten museums accredited today, Full Accreditation has been awarded to the Michael Davitt Museum for the first time while Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Knock Museum, the National Gallery of Ireland, the National Print Museum and the Zoological Museum, Trinity College Dublin, have retained Full Accreditation that had been previously won, while four others – Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Crawford Art Gallery, Kilmainham Gaol Museum, OPW and the Museum of Free Derry, were awarded Interim Accreditation.  

Additional Information on Individual Winners:


Full Accreditation 

The Heritage Council is pleased to confirm Full Accreditation for Michael Davitt Museum under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). The Michael Davitt National Memorial Company Limited is governed by a volunteer board.  Since 2019 museum management has come under the umbrella of Mayo North East Leader Partnership.  It is staffed by an enthusiastic team of people employed through the community employment scheme and this year has appointed its first paid full time Curator through funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development under its Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP). 

In recommending Full Accreditation the Museum’s Assessors wrote, “It is evident that the Michael Davitt Museum staff have worked extremely hard to achieve accreditation status. They have carried out a phenomenal task in the gathering of documentation for Accreditation. Since the first site assessment in 2009 it is clear that through the MSPI Accreditation process they have achieved a well thought out structure and framework to assist them in the years to come.” 

Contact: Yvonne Corcoran Loftus, Curator, Michael Davitt Museum, Tel: 087 0675251, Email: davittmuseum@eircom.net



Maintenance of Full Accreditation

The Heritage Council is pleased to announce Maintenance of Full Accreditation for Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).

The Hugh Lane Gallery holds a significant collection of art works of national importance. The relatively small staff deliver an effective programme of exhibitions and an extensive programme of activities to enable the Gallery to engage with a wide range of audiences. The majority of the Gallery’s funding is provided by Dublin City Council whose interest and support is a major contributing factor to the continued development of the Gallery. There is also a separate Board of trustees who support the Gallery and provide advice to the City Council. 

 Its MSPI Assessor said, “The success of the Gallery is a result of this support and the enthusiasm and dedication of its staff. The Gallery demonstrates very high standards of collections care and collections management which underpins their activities of scholarship and public engagement. At the time of the assessment, the Gallery was preparing to start a major refurbishment project which will provide new opportunities for exhibition and improved environmental control.  The application was very well-presented.”  The Assessor also noted that as part of the Gallery’s programme to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising the Gallery held a wide range of activities and exhibitions on the theme Artist as Witness. Since the last assessment the Gallery has a new strategic plan for the period 2018-2022. It encompasses a new mission statement and vision to guide the Gallery’s activities for the future.  He also commented that as the Gallery is a distance from the other main cultural centres in Dublin, “It is a tribute to the excellent work of the staff that they achieve such high visitor numbers.  The planned Parnell Square Cultural Quarter should help bring more visitors to this area of the city.” 

 Contact: Sinead Murphy, Press Officer, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Tel.  01 222 2170 Email: press@dublincity.ie  


Maintenance of Full Accreditation

The Heritage Council is pleased to announce Maintenance of Full Accreditation for Knock Museum under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).  Knock Museum achieved Full Accreditation in 2009 and received its first certificate to confirm that all the standards were maintained in 2013.  In awarding a new certificate today the Standards it’s Assessor commented, “As with previous applications Knock Museum submitted a very thorough and comprehensive application”. He also noted that Knock Museum is, “a resourceful and flexible institution.  It is now a source of advice for other museums.”  The Assessment report notes that the Museum has been a mentor to the Michael Davitt Museum receiving Full Accreditation under the Programme today. 

It also noted that Knock Museum continued to advance its Strategic Plan, and has achieved much since its last assessment.  This included a new office for staff in 2015, the professional conservation of an important Knock Shrine Society banner and early 20th century statues from the Apparition Gable. This latter work was undertaken in public and visitors could view and interact with the conservator at work.  “Podcatcher” portable audio devices have also been installed, allowing visitors to listen to information throughout the Museum and the Shrine grounds.  Additionally, a successful funding application to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht saw new display cases in the display galleries. 

In awarding a Maintenance of Accreditation Certificate the Heritage Council also acknowledges the recent retirement of James Campbell, who together with the Museum’s Curator, Grace Mulqueen, has been a much-appreciated supporter of the Programme since Knock Museum was invited to participate in a pilot study for a museum accreditation scheme for Ireland. 

 Contact: Grace Mulqueen, Curator Knock Museum Tel. 0876705487, Email: museum@knockshrine.ie



Maintenance of Full Accreditation

The Heritage Council is pleased to announce Maintenance of Full Accreditation for the National Gallery of Ireland under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). 

The National Gallery of Ireland achieved Full Accreditation in 2007 and this status was further confirmed in 2011 through a previous maintenance assessment. This current maintenance assessment looks at the development of the Gallery through a significant period of improvement since 2011 under Phases 1 – 3 of its Master Development Plan. As before, the application for maintenance of Full Accreditation was assessed in the light of the National Gallery of Ireland’s standing as a nationally significant museum. Its Assessor said, “It is pleasing to note that the Gallery has not only continued to achieve the required standards but has also developed exciting new services and operational activities that are a credit to the Board and staff of the institution. Work is progressing on Phase 4 of the Master Development Plan and this offers further opportunities that will ensure that the Gallery remains at the forefront of museum provision in Ireland”.

Its Assessor also commented, “It is difficult to highlight just a few achievements since the last assessment as the National Gallery of Ireland has, through its Master Development Plan, accomplished so much during the period. The refurbishment of the building and redisplay of the collections clearly has involved a period of dedicated and complex work on the part of the Board and staff of the Gallery supported by the Office of Public Works. The result is that the National Gallery of Ireland now has enhanced facilities that befit the status of the collection and the role of the Gallery in providing access for the people of Ireland to pre-eminent works of art”.  With regard to the Standards the Assessor noted, “changes were substantial and enhanced the standards available at the Gallery at international levels. In addition to the essential and developmental building works, an opportunity was taken to rehang many works in the collection.  The newly adopted display scheme is innovative and provides an opportunity for the public to gain an invaluable new insight into the nature and the substantial range of the collection.  Phase 4 of the Master Development Plan is eagerly awaited as this will ensure that vital services such as conservation and education have the facilities they deserve”.

Contact: Kate O’Leary, Communications, Marketing and Digital Engagement Manager, National Gallery of Ireland Tel. 087 334 1587 Email: koleary@ngi.ie   



Maintenance of Full Accreditation

 The Heritage Council is very pleased to announce Maintenance of Full Accreditation for the National Print Museum under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI). The National Print Museum is receiving its second certificate to confirm maintenance of all the standards under the Programme.  Its Assessor listed twelve achievements made by the National Print Museum since the last assessment which summed up, “ the remarkable development and success of the Museum over the last five years.  The CEO, staff, volunteers and Board members are to be congratulated for the consistently high standard achieved in all areas of the Museum”.  Among these achievements she noted,

 the steady increase in visitor numbers, from 24,385 in 2011to 58,507 in 2017;

  • The revised Constitutional document is excellent and the help of very experienced Board members is acknowledged in its drafting.
  • The presentation of the Strategic Management Plan 2018-2021 is a model of its kind. For a museum strongly dependent on successful fund-raising, it is an ideal document to accompany applications for financial support.  A good example of successful fund raising is that secured for the exhibition ‘Print, Protest and The Polls’ from Dublin City Council, European Year of Cultural Heritage and the print industry (Spera, Colorman and Vermillion).
  • An indication of the high standards reached by this museum is the improvement in monitoring and achieving good environmental conditions in the museum and its success in satisfying the loan requirements of three National institutions, the National Gallery and National Library in Dublin and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
  • The continuing successful development of its diverse educational programmes.
  • The Museum’s participation with three European partners in an EU-funded project entitled Creative Makers designed to empower children to creatively explore letterpress through new technology.
  • New partnership arrangements including one with University College Dublin’s MA Library and Information Studies which involves students working on projects in the Museum, such as cataloguing and labelling.
  • Mounting an ambitious exhibition, borrowed from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, entitled A World to Win, Posters of Protest and Revolution, and succeeding during the exhibition’s six weeks run in 2015 in attracting 10,000 visitors!

 Contact: Rachel O’Byrne, Museum Manager National Print Museum Tel: 01 6603770 Email: manager@nationalprintmuseum.ie  



Maintenance of Full Accreditation

 The Heritage Council is very pleased to announce Maintenance of Full Accreditation for the Zoological Museum, TCD under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).

Its Assessor commented that its last assessment in 2014 identified strengths related to research and collections care.  The Museum continues its role as a teaching and research collection, while using the three summer months to push forward on developing the Museum’s public profile.  She said,  ”The rise in visit numbers is a testament to the commitment to bring the collections to a new audience.  Alongside the teaching, research and public access, collections care has been maintained at a high standard with further improvements made”.

The report noted that new plastic storage crates in the basement have improved that area considerably, offering more physical protection to the collection.  In addition the purchase of the Adlib documentation system has resulted in the complete clearance of the documentation backlog.  Attention was also drawn to the excellent visitor numbers that are now being achieved over the summer months when the museum is open to the public.  The additional revenue raised has contributed to improvements elsewhere in the museum and enables the employment of students to provide public tours. She also commented, “It is remarkable that all this work is carried out by a single member of staff, acting as Honorary Curator.  His tireless work with the museum collection, its care and access, is evident throughout the museum.”

The Museum has maintained Full Accreditation, but has not stood still.  Improvements continue to be made and testament must be paid to the commitment, energy, knowledge and hard work of the Honorary Curator.

Contact: Dr Martyn Linnie, Curator The Zoological Museum Tel. 087-2393869 Email: mlinnie@tcd.ie    



Interim Accreditation

The Heritage Council is pleased to confirm Allihies Copper Mine Museum has been awarded Interim Accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).  Allihies Copper Mine Museum (ACMM) is housed in a former Methodist Chapel, built in 1845 for the Cornish miners that came to area, with a well-designed modern extension containing a café and temporary exhibition space. It recently received a collections care grant under the Museum Standards Programme to assess the condition of important papers donated to the museum connected to the Puxley family which founded the mine in the 19th century. 

 Its MSPI assessors commented that the application received from the museum was, “Comprehensive and addresses all aspects of museum strategy and management”.   They went on to commend, The dedication to professional standards throughout the museum experience, and the progress that the entirely voluntary management team have made across all standards, particularly the museum manual. The assessors also noted the strong emphasis on ensuring public engagement with the Allihies Copper Mine Museum as part of the Wild Atlantic Way tourist trail”.  Its assessors also commended, “The strategic approach outlined in their Education Policy to partner with schools and third level institutions to further the mission of the Museum.” Commenting on the Museum’s Collection Policy they said it was, “thorough and describes the scope/status of the collection, its history, ownership and future focus. It is clear about the Museum’s commitment to the surrounding mining landscape.”  The assessors also noted, “the commitment to training new staff in collections care and documentation within three months of taking up their posts: this will provide continuity in practice and in upholding the MSPI standards”.

Contact: Tadhg O’Sullivan, Member of the Board of Directors, Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Tel. 086 8565381 Email tados1@hotmail.com



Interim Accreditation

 The Heritage Council is pleased to confirm Crawford Art Gallery has been awarded Interim Accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).  The Crawford Art Gallery is a National Cultural Institution and holds a significant collection of art works of national importance with its strengths in 20th century and Irish art. The majority of the Gallery’s funding is provided directly by the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht with a Board of a company limited by guarantee, Crawford Art Gallery Cork, to provide direction and support to the Gallery. 

 The relatively small staff deliver an effective programme of exhibitions and an extensive programme of learning activities which enables the gallery to engage with a wide range of audiences. The assessors noted, “the Gallery has developed processes to deliver high standards of stewardship and collections management in a building which provides a number of challenges in these areas. At the time of the assessment, the Gallery was developing proposals for a major redevelopment project which is planned to deliver wide-ranging improvements including a more-welcoming public entrance, a more-controlled environment within the Gallery and better stores for the collections”.

Its assessors said the application was well presented and they were, “impressed by the level of engagement with the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland by the Chair, Director and staff”.  The assessors also noted that a grant from the Museum Standards Programme enabled the condition of the sculpture collection to be checked.  This included 12 Canova casts purchased in 1818 and which are related to the founding of the Crawford Art School and the Gallery.  These are now to be seen to great effect in the refurbished sculpture galleries in the exhibition Recasting Canova.

Contact: Mary McCarthy, Director, Crawford Art Gallery, Tel. 086 03874988, Email director@crawfordartgallery.ie



Interim Accreditation

 The Heritage Council is pleased to confirm Kilmainham Gaol Museum, OPW has been awarded Interim Accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).  Kilmainham Gaol is a substantial and iconic building holding nationally important collections, now visited annually by almost 400,000 people. For its size, it has a small core of professional staff who are committed to improving an already high standard of museum provision and visitor experience. This is backed up by the resources of the OPW, which includes heritage conservation as one of its main functions. Its assessors wrote, “Staff at Kilmainham Gaol Museum submitted an excellent application for Interim Accreditation. The museum has met requirements for Interim and the majority of those for Full; it is well placed to now proceed to achieve all requirements to meet the full standard.”  They continued saying,

In many cases the MSPI standards have been exceeded and the museum is to be commended for its very high standard of collections care and visitor services.  It is clear from the Strategic management Plan that the OPW, as an organization, fully supports the aims of the Museum Standards Programme for its sites and this has been evident throughout in both the documentation provided and the amendments to processes noted since 2010. The entire organisation can therefore be commended for the progress detailed in this report”.

The MSPI Assessors’ also commented, “The Museum has been very successful in attracting audiences to the historic site, in great part through the team’s energetic and sensitive handling of the many complex anniversaries during the Decade of Centenary commemorations currently taking place which will culminate in the centenary celebration of Irish Independence, tempered by the more melancholy aspect of the ensuing Civil War”.

Contact: Brian Higgins, OPW Press Office Tel. 046 942 6106, Email: opwcsc@opw.ie



Interim Accreditation

The Heritage Council is pleased to confirm the Museum of Free Derry has been awarded Interim Accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).  The Museum of Free Derry was invited to join the Museum Standards Programme in 2008 and was awarded an Interim Accreditation Certificate in 2011.  Since then the museum has gone through a complete reconstruction.  Consequently, the Museum was required to resubmit an application.

 Both assessors were very impressed with Museum and its extensive new building and displays and its associated education programmes and dedicated temporary exhibition and event space. They said, “A detailed application was submitted and it is evident that Museum of Free Derry is a well-run museum with a small but dedicated staff”.   The Assessors commented they were, “Particularly impressed with the amount of cross community work that the Museum is involved with. Their collections reflect a turbulent and contested period in the city’s recent past and the displays interpret this with an inventive and engaging series of interactive and thought-provoking exhibits. The application was very thorough and reflects the professionalism and dedication of the staff as well as their governing body, The Bloody Sunday Trust”.  Through the application process the Museum also completed the transfer of collection from outside storage to new dedicated storage space within the building.

Commenting on the Strategic Plan submitted the assessors said, “Some of the key objectives from the Strategic Plan include preparations for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in 2022.  The Museum of Free Derry also hopes to be completely self-sustaining by raising its annual visitor numbers to 48,000 by 2023 which will be a very significant achievement if realised.”

 Contact: Adrian Kerr, Museum of Free Derry, Tel: +44 7968 258508, Email: adrian@bloodysundaytrust.org

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