Museum Standards Programme for Ireland

Museum Standards Programme for Ireland

2007 – ongoing

MSPI promotes professional standards in the care of collections in Irish museums and galleries. The programme recognises the achievement of those standards through accreditation.

MSPI promotes professional standards in the care of collections in Irish museums and galleries. The programme recognises the achievement of those standards through accreditation.


The Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) was established by the Heritage Council to benchmark and promote professional standards in the care of collections and to recognise through accreditation the achievement of those standards within the Irish museum sector. 

Aims and Objectives

Why Accreditation?
Accredited museums can have confidence they know how to look after their collections and understand the needs of their visitors. 

'Taking part in the Museum Standards Programme is a public promise by each museum to take care of its collection'. Achieving accreditation in MSPI demonstrates that a museum is meeting its promise.'

The Work of MSPI
Participation on the programme is open to: 
(i) all established and eligible museums and galleries on the island of Ireland and 
(ii) the custodians of eligible collections considering or seeking a more permanent and secure situation for their collection. 

Standards are achievable and can be applied to museums of all sizes and levels of funding.
MSPI provides a series of workshops to support the achievement of these standards covering topics that include:

  • taking care of and documenting a collection;
  • storing, displaying and exhibiting artefacts;
  • risk assessment and disaster planning;
  • visitor care and access;
  • museum governance and policies;
  • managing finances;
  • marketing and
  • developing an education policy.

In addition the programme is complemented by a targeted post-graduate museum course which is supported by the Heritage Council and delivered by the University of Ulster.

Please note that the numbering of guidelines below corresponds to the relevant sections of the accreditation application form.

The contents of the Standards document are as follows:

A. Management

1. Constitution and policies

Mission Statement
[1.1] [INTERIM]

Collection Policy
[1.5] [INTERIM]

Disposal Policy
[1.6] [INTERIM]

Loan Policy
[1.7] [FULL]

2. Museum Management

Building Ownership and/or Lease Agreements
[2.1] [INTERIM]
Formal Written Agreement if Collection is owned and managed by two Organisations [2.2][INTERIM]
Strategic Management Plan and Annual Action Plan
[2.3] [INTERIM] Financial Plan/Procedures and Estimates
[2.6] [INTERIM] Audited Accounts/Certified Statement of Accounts
[2.7] [INTERIM]

B. Collections Management

3. Caring for the collection

Building Maintenance Routine & Schedule (Interim)
[ 3.2] [INTERIM]
Pest Control Measures (Interim)
[3.3] [INTERIM]
Training in Care of Collections
[3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9] ] [INTERIM]
Evidence of Monitoring and Controlling the Museum Envrionment
[3.10] [INTERIM]
[3.11, 3.12] [INTERIM]
[3.14] [INTERIM]
Maintenance Routine for Exhibitions
[3.15] [INTERIM]
Condition of the Collection
[3.18] [INTERIM]
Disaster Response Procedures
[3.19] [INTERIM] Disaster Plan
[3.20] [FULL] Care of Collections Strategy
[3.21] [FULL]

4. Documenting the collection

Entry Record
[4.1] [INTERIM]
Accessions Record and Secure Copy 
[4.2, 4.3, 4.4] [INTERIM]
Object Location Record System
[4.5] [INTERIM]
Object Movement Record System 
[4.6] [INTERIM]
Exit Record System
[4.7] [INTERIM]
Plan for Documentation Backlog
[4.9] [FULL]
Loan Agreements and Records
[4.10, 4.11 & 4.12] [FULL]
Catalogue [4.13] [FULL]

C. Public Services
Exhibition refers to both 'Long-term Displays from the Museum's Collection and Temporary Exhibitions'.

5. Exhibition (Long Term and Temporary)

Consistent Approach to Labelling
[5.1] [INTERIM]
Budget for Exhibitions
[5.2] [INTERIM]
Visitor Survey and Evaluation of Exhibitions
[5.3] [FULL]
Exhibition Policy
[5.4] [FULL]

6. Education

Outline of Education Activities/Programmes
[6.1] [INTERIM]
Education Policy & Annual Action Plan
[6.6] [FULL]

7. Visitor care and access

Admission Charged
[7.2] [INTERIM]
External Signage
[7.3] [INTERIM]
Visitor Facilities
[7.4] [INTERIM]
Visitor Numbers and Survey
[7.7 & 7.8] [INTERIM]

There are now 58 museums (61 sites) in the Museum Standards Programme. These include national institutions, local authority, private, co-operative and small volunteer-run museums. To date 28 have achieved Full Accreditation and 12 have achieved Interim Accreditation.

Allihies Copper Mine Museum Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork

Athy Heritage Centre & Museum Athy, Co. Kildare

The Butler Gallery Co. Kilkenny

Carlow County Museum Co. Carlow

Castletown House Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Cavan County Museum Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan

Chester Beatty Library Co. Dublin

Clare Museum Ennis, Co. Clare

Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland, Galway

County Museum Dundalk. Co. Louth

Crawford Art Gallery Co.Cork

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse and Agricultural Museum Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Donegal County Museum Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Dublin Castle Co. Dublin

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane Co. Dublin

Farmleigh Co. Dublin

Fota House Co. Cork

Foynes Flying Boat Museum Co. Limerick

The GAA Museum Co. Dublin

Galway City Museum Co. Galway

Glasnevin Museum Co. Dublin

Highlanes Gallery Co. Drogheda

The Hunt Museum Co. Limerick

Irish Agricultural Museum Co. Wexford

Irish Jewish Museum Co. Dublin

Kerry County Museum Co. Kerry

Kerry Writers' Museum Co. Kerry

Kilkenny Castle Co. Kilkenny

Kilmainham Gaol Co. Dublin

Knock Museum Knock, Co. Mayo

Lewis Glucksman Gallery Co.Cork

Limerick City Gallery of Art Co. Limerick

The Little Museum of Dublin, Co Dublin

Michael Davitt Museum Foxford, Co. Mayo

Millmount Museum Drogheda, Co. Louth

Model Arts and Niland Gallery Co. Sligo

Monaghan County Museum Co. Monaghan

Muckross House Traditional Farms and Research Library Killarney, Co. Kerry

Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, Co. Chiarrai

Museum of Free Derry Co.Derry

National Gallery of Ireland Co. Dublin

National Museum of Ireland: Museum of Country Life Co. Mayo

National Print Museum Co. Dublin

The Old Library Trinity College, Co. Dublin

The Pearse Museum Co. Dublin

Rathfarnham Castle, Co. Dublin

Rothe House Museum Co. Kilkenny

Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin

Tipperary County Museum Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Waterford Museum of Treasures Co. Waterford

The Zoological Museum Trinity College, Co. Dublin

National Transport Museum Co. Dublin (inactive status)

If you are the custodian of a collection seeking to improve care and management or if you wish to assess your eligibility for the programme, please download and read the MSPI Standards & Guidelines, contact our MSPI Co-ordinator Lesley-Ann Hayden 

Though designed to support MSPI applicants through the accreditation application process, the Standards & Guidelines document is an extremely useful resource for any individual or organisation seeking to take greater care of their collection or archive regardless of their desire or eligibility to participate on the programme.

This book interprets these familiar principles and practices within the context of caring for collections. Some of the main processes of deterioration are explained and measures to minimise further damage are suggested.

A programme of training in all aspects of museum work forms an integral part of the Museum Standards Programme. It is only through a considered strategy of training and continuous professional development (CPD) that Irish museums will fulfil their potential to be at the heart of the social and cultural life of increasingly diverse communities.

Throughout the accreditation period all participants are encouraged to attend workshops on topics as diverse as Strategic Planning, Writing a Collection Policy, and Disaster Planning among others. These workshops are open to all museum staff whether engaged with the programme or not (although for logistical reasons if it is necessary to restrict numbers preference may be given to programme participants).

Accreditation is a phased process and when a museum meets Full Accreditation applicants will be expected to have undertaken training in all relevant matters relating to collections care, where required.

University of Ulster - Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Practice and Management

Significantly the Museums Standards Programme is complemented by a post-graduate training programme currently offered by the University of Ulster (on-line) and developed in partnership with the Heritage Council. This programme responds to the demand for increased training and research opportunities relating to museum practice and management. It relates the needs of Irish museums to best practice in the United Kingdom and internationally. For further information on the University of Ulster consult: 

Further information on the Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Practice and Management 

Training Bursaries

The Heritage Council will consider the provision of bursaries for UU on-line course to support the raising of standards across the Irish Museum sector. In keeping, with its standard practice, the Heritage Council will fund no more than 75% of any one module or three out of four modules

Please note: Bursaries are only available to staff or in some cases volunteers of MSPI participants.  Applicants must complete a bursary application form and submit it to the Heritage Council in advance of commencement of each module to (re)confirm eligibility and availability of a bursary towards the cost of the module. The form must be signed by the applicant's Director/Manager.

For further information please contact Lesley-Ann Hayden, MSPI Coordinator 

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