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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
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:
1. Constitution and policies
Building Ownership and/or Lease Agreements
Formal Written Agreement if Collection is owned and managed by two Organisations
Strategic Management Plan and Annual Action Plan
Financial Plan/Procedures and Estimates
Audited Accounts/Certified Statement of Accounts
B. Collections Management
3. Caring for the collection
Building Maintenance Routine & Schedule
[ 3.2] [INTERIM]
Pest Control Measures
Training in Care of Collections
[3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9] [INTERIM]
Evidence of Monitoring and Controlling the Museum Environment
[3.11, 3.12] [INTERIM]
Maintenance Routine for Exhibitions
Condition of the Collection
Disaster Response Procedures
Care of Collections Strategy
4. Documenting the collection
Accessions Record, Secure Copy and Marking Objects
[4.2, 4.3, 4.4] [INTERIM]
Object Location Record System
Object Movement Record System
Exit Record System
Plan for Documentation Backlog
Loan Agreements and Records
[4.10, 4.11 & 4.12] [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)
As of January 2020 there are 59 museums (65 sites) in the Museum Standards Programme. These include national cultural institutions, local authority, private, university, co-operative and small volunteer-run museums. To date the Heritage Council has issued 38 Interim Accreditation Certificates, 37 Full Accreditation Certificates and 32 Maintenance of Full Accreditation Certificates.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 publication also includes ten useful Factsheets:
Caring for Collections
MUSEUMS, ARCHIVES & CULTURAL HERITAGE / Published 1999
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. Sections of this publication are referenced in MSPI Care of Collections guidelines.
Published by: The Heritage Council
Author: Susan Corr
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: http://www.ulster.ac.uk/
Further information on the Post Graduate Diploma in Museum Practice and Management
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 email@example.com
This chart shows the current level of accreditation of certified MSPI Participants and the years in which they received accreditation certificates.
The accreditation process takes approximately 5 years. Participants usually submit applications for Interim Accreditation (25 standards) towards the end Year 3 in the Programme and applications for Full Accreditation (9 Full Standards and 25 Interim Standards) towards the end of Year 5. Some Participants are ready to submit an application for all standards after three years and can be allowed to skip the Interim Application stage.
Three years after receiving a Full Accreditation certificate Participants are required to submit an application to confirm Maintenance of Full Accreditation.
Participants are then required to submit a new application for Maintenance of Full Accreditation within five years of receiving a certificate to confirm Maintenance of Accreditation.
Last update June 2021