Museums in Ireland


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Today I read an interesting article detailing museums to visit before you die. I have to say that there were very few on the list that I had had the opportunity to visit. Much of this is due to the fact that the list was very American centric with a few museums in DC making the cut. My initially reaction was to think that the list was compiled by an American and that is why the majority of the museums are based there but then I re-evaluated my thinking and came to the realisation that maybe the reason why so many of the museums are in America is because that is where some of the best museums are. These large museums are highly funded both publicly and privately.

I then though about Ireland and really imagined what a museum here is like in comparison to some on the list. I was in Berlin last year, where I paid a visit to Museum Island. This area in Berlin filled with some of the most impressive museum’s I have ever seen was on the list and deservedly so. Leaving there my immediate thought was that I would love to work in one of those museums. The space, the collections, the exhibitions were all so awe inspiring and the way the information is presented is jaw dropping. There is no museum in Ireland that has given me that same sense of awe and inspiration. I don’t think that this is necessarily the fault of the people working in the sector in Ireland but more to do with the way that museums are perceived here. Funding is low, there are constant cuts to museum budgets, there has been a complete lack of interest and enthusiasm by the government and even the people of Ireland to address this problem. This is something that really needs to be addressed, if the people of Ireland don’t care about their museums then I fear that they will continue to suffer with budget cuts and for some eventual closure. This is so disheartening in a country that is steeped in history and heritage. We are an island that has an abundance of culture and it is something that we need to share more fully with the world.

In Ireland there is no destination museum that will make your head spin and leave you longing to return. There are of course museums that I love in Ireland, The Chester Beatty Library is an amazing place with an inspired collection. It is my go to place to visit with visitors to Ireland and everyone who visits there loves it. The National Museums have wonderful collections and in the case of the site at Collins Barrack’s, fantastic locations but they are so underfunded that much of the collection does not get the room to shine. Revamping and updating exhibitions is unlikely to happen when budgets are being so astronomically slashed. This is such a difficult time for the heritage and culture sector in Ireland and sadly there does not seem to be any change on this front coming soon.

This really leaves me feeling despondent with the museum sector in Ireland. We are an island filled with history and heritage but we are constantly fighting a losing battle against budgets to fully embrace this history and share it in a way that is respectful but also inspiring. Thanks to the passionate and enthusiastic people working in the sector there has been some great work done in the last few years. There are some inspiring exhibitions been created and some great work being done to engage and interact more fully with people. I can only hope that this work continues to flourish and that maybe in the future museums in Ireland will get a chance to shine more fully and compete internationally.