Written Answers. - National Museum.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

17 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the extent to which the National Museum has the ability to put on display artefacts in its charge; if any such items remain in storage; if so, the extent to which this occurs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19706/98]

I believe the Deputy is aware that the National Museum has responsibility for the collection and preservation of artefacts and specimens, not only for display but as scientific archives which are often not suitable or intended for display purposes. The National Museum will only exhibit at any time a representative sample of the national collections and as more facilities are made available they will be able to exhibit a more extensive range of artefacts and specimens with the remaining material held in storage. It is the normal international practice of all museums to retain large reserve collections in storage.

It is fair to say that until recently the ability of the National Museum to put on display artefacts and specimens in its charge was restricted due to the level of exhibition space available. However the opening of a major new facility at Collins Barracks in September 1997, in addition to the existing museums at Kildare Street and the Natural History Museum in Merrion Street, have meant that the situation has improved. Future plans for the National Museum include further developments at Collins Barracks and the opening of a Folklife Museum at Turlough Park House, Castlebar. These developments will enable the National Museum to put on display a more extensive range of artefacts and specimens from the national collections, some of which have not been seen for a considerable period. I should also acknowledge the fact that the National Museum lends material for exhibition to other museums, both nationally and abroad.