Clare Museum’s relationship with MSPI goes back several years having first applied for initial assessment under MSPI when the Programme was launched in 2007, with the initial assessment to benchmark the museum occurring in November of that year. However, participation of the Ennis-based museum went into hiatus following cutbacks in January 2008 when the economic crisis began to loom large and public services across the board were deeply affected.
With improved circumstances, the museum became active in the programme again in February 2014 with participation led by the curator, John Rattigan. Crucial to the delivery of Interim accreditation was the dedication and co-operation of staff members Tomás Mac Conmara and Darren Higgins and volunteer Jakub Kacprzak, and relevant training provided by the Heritage Council. Indeed, the process also required the support of Clare County Council’s management and elected representatives in the adoption of policies and a Strategic Management Plan.
The specific Standards of the MSPI are based on thirty-four minimum standards in relation to Management, Care of Collections and Visitor Services. These are divided into seven categories:
1. Constitution and policies
2. Museum management
3. Caring for the collection
4. Documenting the collection
5. Exhibition (long term and temporary)
7. Visitor care and access
A panel of assessors, drawn from senior museum professionals based in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain was appointed to review applications for accreditation. Two assessors reviewed the museum’s written application in the autumn of 2014, conducted a site-visit and submitted a written report with their recommendations to the Programme’s Advisory Group. The Advisory Group reviewed the assessor’s reports before making its recommendations regarding the awarding of accreditation to the Heritage Council. The Heritage Council then reviewed the Advisory Group’s recommendations and confirmed the awarding of accreditation.
The citation which accompanied the award to Clare Museum stated:
‘Clare Museum submitted a high quality and thorough application and the Museum strove hard to complete any outstanding matters in particular, the Museum regularised the questions about collection ownership, documentation and disposal policy. It has also prepared a sound Strategic Management Plan, something it did not have in 2007. The preparation of an SMP is one of the more onerous tasks of the MSPI scheme and the Museum is to be congratulated on presenting a sound and sensible plan. Clare Museum is to be congratulated on the very high standard of the Collection, Disposal, and Loan policies submitted. It is also to be commended for already achieving two Full Standards in advance of its application for Full Standard accreditation. Also commended are the Curator’s studies for a Post-graduate Diploma in Museum Practice and Management at the University of Ulster. It is clear to assessors that Clare Museum has approached the scheme in a professional manner and that it conducts its business in a similar fashion.’
It is intended to apply for Full Accreditation in September 2016.
The image above shows Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gealtacht Heather Humphreys with Michael Starrett Chief Executive of the Heritage Council at the presentation of an award for interim accreditation under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland to Cllr James Breen Mayor of Clare and John Rattigan of Clare Museum. Photograph: Gary O'Neill.