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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 5 Feb 1998

Vol. 486 No. 5

Ceisteanna—Questions. Priority Questions. - National Museum.

Bernard J. Durkan


9 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the proposals, if any, she has to expand the National Museum service on a county by county basis, in conjunction with the library services run by the local authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2849/98]

The National Museum service does not operate on a county by county basis. The statutory responsibility for services in this area is primarily for local authorities acting under local authority legislation.

However, short and long-term loans of museum artefacts between the National Museum and other museums within Ireland are regularly negotiated. For example, a number of long-term loans, some of them substantial, have been made and are continuing in respect of museums in many counties including Cavan, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Limerick, Offaly, Tipperary and Wicklow. All the museums in question have met the National Museum's criteria for sustaining material on long-term loan. In addition, Waterford Heritage Museum was recently advised on the proposed conservation of historic items of clothing associated with Thomas Francis Meagher. Correspondence was also entered into with the Waterford county manager concerning the exhibition, storage and conservation needs of a large and important body of archaeological material excavated in the city over recent years.

Professional and curatorial assistance and advice is regularly given to a large number of local museums, including consultation concerning archaeological discoveries in their areas. These include county museums in Cavan, Kerry, Cork, Limerick, Monaghan and a heritage centre in Laois. As part of the general educational function of the National Museum of Ireland, staff regularly give lectures to local archaeological and historical societies, university seminars and school groups and conferences.

Given that the Minister seems to accept the general principle of displaying artefacts throughout the country, will she decide to make available to each local authority artefacts currently held in storage with a view to expanding this type of service?

It is important that short and long-term loans of museum artefacts are made available to local museums. The National Museum of Ireland gives professional advice and assistance to local museums, particularly in the area of education. It may help the Deputy to know that the recently enacted National Cultural Institutions Act provides for a form of designation for a museum under the aegis of a local authority where new discoveries of archaeological objects which are predominantly more of a local than a national interest might be held. If he wishes to contact the Department, we will be able to give him more information on that. The negotiation and loans of artefacts from the National Museum of Ireland follow strict criteria. However, as many museums have been able to fulfil these criteria, it is important that they are there for the general conservation, display and security of the artefacts involved. I accept and applaud the principle of local museums being able to display artefacts particularly pertaining to their own areas.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.