Mspi 4

Museum Standards Programme for Ireland

2007- ar aghaidh

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.


In the podcast below Lesley-Ann Haden, MSPI Coordinator, and Brian Crowley, Curator of Collections in Kilmainham Gaol, take us through the evolution of the MSPI programme, its importance to the sector, and what the future holds for Irish museums.

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
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
[ 3.2] [INTERIM]
Pest Control Measures
[3.3] [INTERIM]
Training in Care of Collections
[3.6, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9] [INTERIM]
Evidence of Monitoring and Controlling the Museum Environment
[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, Secure Copy and Marking Objects
[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]
[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]

As of December 2022 there are 67 museums (74 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.

Allihies Copper Mine Museum, Beara Peninsula, Co. Cork

Anatomy Museum, Trinity College Dublin

Ballinglen Museum of Art, Co. Mayo

The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny

Carlow County Museum, Carlow

Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Cavan County Museum, Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan

Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 2

Clare Museum, Ennis, Co. Clare

Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland, Galway

Cork Public Museum, Cork

County Museum, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

Derrynane House, OPW, Co. Kerry

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse and Agricultural Museum, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Donegal County Museum, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Drogheda Museum Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Dublin Castle State Apartments, OPW, Dublin 2

Dublin City Gallery- The Hugh Lane, Dublin 1

Edward Worth Library, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin 8

Farmleigh House, OPW, Dublin 15

Fota House, Irish Heritage Trust, Co Cork

Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum, Foynes, Co. Limerick

GAA Museum, Dublin 3

Galway City Museum, Galway

Glebe House & Gallery, OPW, Churchill, Co. Donegal

Glenveagh Castle Museum, Glenveagh National Park, Co. Donegal

Glucksman, University College Cork, Cork

14 Henrietta Street, Dublin 1

Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Co Louth

Hunt Museum, Limerick City

Inishowen Maritime Museum 

Irish Agricultural Museum, Irish Heritage Trust, Co. Wexford

IFI Irish Film Archive, Dublin 1

Irish Jewish Museum, Dublin 8

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Joyce Tower Museum 

Kerry County Museum, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Kilkenny Castle, OPW, Kilkenny

Kilmainham Gaol, OPW, Dublin 8

Knock Museum, Knock, Co. Mayo

Kylemore Abbey & Victorian Walled Gardens, Connemara, Co. Galway

Limerick City Gallery of Art, Limerick

Limerick Museum

The Little Museum of Dublin, Dublin 2

Malahide Castle 

Michael Davitt Museum, Straide, Co. Mayo

Monaghan County Museum, Monaghan

Muckross House, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Muckross Traditional Farms, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Muckross Research Library, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne, Baile an Fheirtéaraigh, Co. Chiarrai

Museum of Free Derry, Derry

Nano Nagle Place, Cork

National Gallery of Ireland, Co. Dublin

National Maritime Museum of Ireland, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

National Museum of Ireland: Archaeology, Kildare St., Dublin 2

National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7

National Museum of Ireland: Country Life, Turlough Park, Co. Mayo

National Museum of Ireland: Natural History, Dublin 2

National Museum of Ireland Collections Resource Centre, Swords

National Print Museum, Dublin 4

National Transport Museum, Howth, Co. Dublin

Newbridge House 

The Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin 2

Pearse Museum, OPW, Dublin 16

Photo Museum, Ireland

Rathfarnham Castle, OPW, Dublin 14

Rothe House Museum & Gardens, Kilkenny

Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Dublin 2

Russborough House, Blessington, Co. Wicklow

Seanchaí – Kerry Writers' Museum, Co. Kerry

Shackleton Museum, Athy, Co. Kildare

The Model

Thomas MacDonagh Museum, Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary

Tipperary Museum of Hidden History, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Waterford Museum of Treasures: Bishop’s Palace, Waterford

Waterford Museum of Treasures: Medieval Museum, Waterford

The Zoological Museum, Trinity College, Co. Dublin

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 publication also includes ten useful Factsheets:

Caring for Collections


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:

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

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 July 2023

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