Milestone for Irish museums: Irish Museums Survey 2016 launched

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Launch of the Irish Museums Survey 2016 / LAMN 1916 Exhibition. From left: Liam Bradley (Curator, Monaghan County Museum); John Rattigan (Chair, Local Authority Museum Network); Minister Heather Humphreys; Brian Crowley (Chair, Irish Museums Association); Dr Sandra Collins (Director, National Library of Ireland); Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald (UCD School of Art History & Cultural Policy). Photo by Gary O’Neill.

 

It’s out! Yesterday more than 100 museum professionals gathered at an event in the National Library of Ireland for the launch of the Irish Museums Survey 2016 by Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

This survey is indeed a milestone: it’s the first comprehensive study of the Irish museum sector in a decade. Funded by the Irish Research Council’s ‘Engaging Civic Society’ scheme, it’s the product of a collaboration between the Irish Museums Association and UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy.

I was the Principal Investigator and author of the report (along with the research team Gina O’Kelly, Dr Colleen Thomas, and Fernando Sanchez), and I’m delighted it’s now available as an online publication.

The results are alternately fascinating, encouraging, and worrying. Here are a few highlights:

  • There are approximately 230 museums in Ireland (north and south); 118 participated in the survey (ranging from independent/community museums to national cultural institutions)
  • 6.1 million visitors were welcomed by Irish museums in 2014: on average museums reported 35% international and 61% domestic visitors.
  • The positive effects of the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland (run by the Heritage Council) over the past decade in enhancing museum practice nationwide was widely observed
  • Provision of educational services has increased from 31% in 2005 to 60% of museums in 2016
  • Digital engagement has risen sharply: museums reported growing levels of collection digitisation, and high levels of engagement on the web and on social media: 98% of museums have a website; 78% are on Facebook; and 40% are on Twitter

… however …

  • 46% of museums have experienced budget decline since 2005; this contrasts sharply with 2005 data.
  • Museums have experienced drastic reductions to the labour force and increasing reliance on volunteers, interns and community employment schemes: 41% indicated they are ‘very dependent’ on voluntary/unpaid labour, and 17% of museums have no paid employees at all. The majority of museums (77%) are staffed by fewer than 10 paid employees.
  • Comments from participants extensively detailed problems with infrastructure and basic facilities, affecting museums across the country. Cutbacks on every aspect of museum provision (education, programming, conservation, security, etc.) indicate the broad and deep impact of budget reductions and hiring freezes.

The report is chock-full of information and analysis, covering all aspects of museum activity. We hope this report will help inform future programming and planning for museums at national and regional levels. This is especially critical for many institutions (large and small) which reported serious problems with infrastructure and facilities in a severe state of disrepair.

Our primary recommendations? In a nutshell:

  1. Establish a research unit to enhance quality and regularity of data collection, based at the Irish Museums Association, the Heritage Council, or the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.
  2. Improve museums’ data collection practices by developing training opportunities for Irish museums, to better support advocacy efforts.
  3. Prioritise, in future policies and programmes, the primary resource needs as identified by museums: (1) capacity (staff, volunteers, time); (2) funding and fundraising support; (3) buildings and storage.
  4. Enhance support of community and independent museums, including a review of supports and the development of a national strategy concerning the needs of small museums.
  5. Offer additional training and resourcing in the areas of digitisation and the development of digital and online strategies.
  6. More detailed research is needed on museum outreach and education, to be further correlated with policy developments such as the Arts in Education Charter.
  7. Low rates of improvement in disabled access since 2005 should be addressed by museums as a priority.

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(version for web viewing)

(version for printing)

 

 

Arts jobs, events, and publication announcements

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Places Matter The Umbrella Project by Rhona Byrne, commissioned by Fire Station Artists’ Studios and supported by Dublin City Council

Like most scholars of memory & Irish history on this island, I’m wiped – 2016 has been a crazy busy year due to centenary-related events (nine conference papers/presentations since Sept, plus an exhibition opening!) Apologies for the relative blog silence as consequence.

A few updates, in any event:

Jobs have recently been refreshed — lots of great ones in there: CEO for the Irish Baroque Orchestra; General Manager of Macnas; Collections Registrar for the National Trust NI; Heritage Officer for Westmeath Co. Council; etc.

Registrations are now being taken for Places Matter: what happens when we invest in the arts? on 12 January 2017, Dublin Castle, a one-day conference on local arts engagement organised by the Arts Council of Ireland in collaboration with Local Government. The speaker list looks very interesting (esp. keynote by Geoffrey Crossick), and I’m looking forward to seeing Emmett Kirwan in a new setting!

The Irish Museums Association’s Annual Lecture is next week (28 November) and this year features Diane Lees, Director-General of the Imperial War Museums. The lecture will be taking place in the special surroundings of the newly renovated Courthouse at Kilmainham Gaol. Tickets are only €5 and this lecture regularly books out, so do register to avoid disappointment.

Next week will also see the launch of two big projects, long in development:

  • The Irish Museums Survey 2016, the first major survey of Irish museums in more than a decade, will be launched at the National Library of Ireland on 30 November by Minister Heather Humphreys. I was the Principal Investigator on this project, which was funded by the Irish Research Council and executed in collaboration with the Irish Museums Association. I’ll be publishing a separate post after the launch, detailing some of our key findings, which will be of interest to anyone working in the heritage or museum sector on the island!
  • We’re very pleased as a School to announce the publication of After Francoise Henry: 50 Years of Art History at UCD (1965 – 2016), part of our current anniversary celebrations. arthistorybookIt features scholarly contributions from members of the staff, past and present. The book will be launched on Thursday, and will be available soon for purchase.

Museum of August Destiny comes to Pearse Museum

Launch of The Museum of August Destiny
Thursday 3 November, 5 pm
Pearse Museum, St Enda’s, Rathfarnham

I’m delighted to share news that the contemporary art exhibition I curated this summer at Lismore Castle Arts – The Museum of August Destiny – will have a second showing at the Pearse Museum, St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham, from 4 November 2016 – 8 January 2017.

Featuring artists Aideen Barry, Mark Clare, Amanda Coogan, Anthony Haughey, Dragana Jurisic, and Sarah Pierce, the six new commissioned works offer reflections on the Irish state and the ‘august destiny’ envisioned by the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

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The exhibition will be launched on 3 November (5 pm) by Professor Sarah Prescott, Principal, UCD College of Arts and Humanities, and on view from 4 November 2016 – 8 January 2017. Admission is free.

Supported by the UCD Decade of Centenaries programme
Initiated & first displayed by Lismore Castle Arts, Co. Waterford
With thanks to the Pearse Museum, Office of Public Works

Upcoming events in Irish arts management and cultural policy

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Titanic Quarter – image c/o visitbelfast.com

Lots of exciting updates in today’s post!

Jobs have recently been refreshed: closing soon are posts at the Tain Arts Centre, Droichead Arts Centre, Screen Producers Ireland, etc.

Next week (13-15 October) is a major conference on Making Memory: Visual and Material Cultures of Commemoration in Ireland, at the National Gallery of Ireland and NCAD. A very diverse lineup of artists, historians, archaeologists, geographers, and heritage professionals will be speaking about memory-work in a variety of commemorative contexts. Don’t miss Guy Beiner’s keynote on vernacular memory in the Royal Irish Academy on Day 2 – he’s really an outstanding speaker, and his visits to Ireland are always a treat.

Enfranchising Ireland? Identity, Citizenship and the State is a public seminar on offer at the Royal Irish Academy on 20 October. Expect political big-hitters including Francis FitzGerald (Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality), and expert presentations on contemporary and historical perspectives on Irish citizenship and the public sphere.

The Irish Museums Association event City Life: Museums and Community Regeneration on 21 October is now taking reservations. This is a FREE event at Ulster University (with free transport from Dublin – Belfast provided for students and IMA members) sponsored by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional, and Gaeltacht Affairs,. A great lineup of speakers will be addressing case studies of community-building and museums, followed by a guided site visit.

Mise Eire? Shaping Ireland through Design is taking place from 4-5 November at the National Museum of Ireland (Collins Barracks). Apart from having a stunning website (!) this 2-day seminar is part of the 2016 centenary programme, and a partnership project between the National Museum of Ireland and the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. Highlights include a keynote by Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with the Amber Eyes, and a fabulous range of speakers encompassing all aspects of design and national identity.

The Cultural Policy Observatory Ireland has announced details of its 2-part winter seminar at University of Limerick on 16 November. Part 1 is a Methods Seminar for CPOI Affiliate Researchers and doctoral candidates; Part 2 is a public lecture by renowned cultural policy scholar Eleonora Belfiore. Reservations for both segments are now being accepted!

Autumn 2016 in Dublin: an arts/cultural primer

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Apart from all the events on in city centre, don’t forget Drawsoc, UCD’s award-winning visual arts society! Lots of events planned on campus for the first weeks of term…

Today we welcomed our new class of MAs in Arts Management and Cultural Policy here at UCD! We’ve another group of diverse and ambitious folks keen to get stuck into study, but also to explore all of the cultural delights of the city🙂 As promised, here’s a roundup of some highlights in the cultural calendar during the next two months. For folks new to Dublin, you couldn’t land at a better time!

Culture Night (Friday, 16 September) – the city will be taken over this Friday with Culture Night, with a massive number arts and cultural events happening around the country (and in NI) as well. My tips: start early, bring your walking shoes, plan your itinerary in advance (queues can be long for the popular venues!), and enjoy the liveliest night of the year in town… it’s not an exaggeration to say that most of city centre is given over to culture vultures.

Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival (10-25 September) – it’s on, it’s sprawling, it’s hot, it’s crazy. Fringe has already kicked off the autumn arts glut with a smashing programme this year… top venues include the Spiegeltent (in Merrion Square for the first time this year!) You’ve 73 productions and 412 performances to choose from (and here are the recs from the Irish Times), but my money’s on RIOT from Thisisopopbaby (co-produced by MA alumna Jenny Jennings) and Paul Currie’s surreal Release the Baboons.

Dublin Theatre Festival (29 Sept. – 16 October 2016) – this is the big one: theatres across town will be stuffed to the gills with the offerings in this year’s festival, with top-notch international and domestic productions a-plenty, and very reasonable ticket prices. I’ve got my eye on Backstage in Biscuit Land and the new staging of a Midsummer Night’s Dream in particular.

Open House Dublin (14-16 October 2016) – for the architecture buffs amongst us, this annual mainstay offers 100+ tours of iconic Dublin buildings and little-seen interiors. A fab way to poke your nose in some astonishing and striking buildings sprinkled all over the greater Dublin area.

Project Arts Centre – Project 50 Season (from October) – the beloved Project Arts Centre (one of the country’s main multidisciplinary venues) is blowing out 50 candles on its cake this year, and to celebrate they’ve programmed a special season of work. Shows at Project are reliably excellent and provocative, under the steady hand of director Cian O’Brian (a graduate of our course, btw).

Ireland 2016 / Decade of Commemorations  – over the past year the events calendar has been stuffed with commemorative events of all shades and stripes; there’s still time to catch a number of fantastic arts events over the next few months:

  • Composing the Island: a century of music in Ireland, 1916-2016, National Concert Hall (7-25 September) – for the music buffs, catch any one of a series of 29 concerts — orchestral, choral, instrumental, song and chamber music — by Irish composers written between 1916 and 2016.
  • In the Shadow of the State – The Touching Contract, Sarah Browne and Jesse Jones, the Rotunda (23-25 September) – get booking NOW for this — one of the commissioned centenary works created by artists Browne and Jones, this is an immersive performance work staged in the Rotunda Hospital reflecting on women’s bodies and the state.
  • These Rooms – Anu Productions & CoisCéim Dance Theatre (27 Sept. – 16 Oct.) – another immersive live performance, from the renowned site specific theatre-makers Anu and the highly regarded CoisCéim, revisiting the Rising from the perspective of civilians on North King Street caught in the cross-hairs.
  • Butterflies and Bones: The Casement Project (20-22 October) – Perhaps no figure better encapsulates the conflicts and contradictions of 1916 and its legacy than Roger Casement. Dancer Fearghus Ó Conchúir has been producing a stunning series of events reflecting on Casement’s human rights activism, revolutionary aspirations, his sexuality, trial and conflicted legacy – an unmissable final instalment.

Phew. I love Dublin in the autumn!