Written answers

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

National Cultural Institutions

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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216. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the initiatives that have been developed since June 2020 to enable the national cultural institutions, NCIs, to go on tour to towns across the country; and to detail the tours that have taken place, by each NCI. [32168/22]

Photo of Catherine MartinCatherine Martin (Dublin Rathdown, Green Party)
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The National Cultural Institutions (NCIs) play a valuable role as custodians of Ireland’s history and culture. This work encompasses not only the collection, preservation and display of heritage objects and artworks, but also educational activities that facilitate the public’s understanding of items in the collections and the broader context in which they were produced.

My Department recognises the importance of both sharing this knowledge with communities across the country as well as the need to safeguard these precious objects by ensuring that they are displayed in sites that are secure and have  appropriate environmental controls.  An important vehicle for supporting the presentation of objects from the National Collections across the country is my Department’s Mobility of Collections Scheme.  The Scheme is designed to fund the transport, cost of insurance and exhibiting costs for pieces from the National Collections to institutions around the country with a particular focus on showing items with specific local or regional interest to those communities. While there was no activity under the mobility of collections scheme in 2020 or 2021 due to the operational challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department continues to support the scheme in 2022. 

The National Cultural Institutions (NCIs) are equally committed to increasing access to the national collections through online programmes and by lending objects to local exhibitions.  While the NCIs under the aegis of my Department are independent in their management of day-to-day matters, the loaning and dissemination of items from the National Collection under their care is actively encouraged.

During the pandemic, which includes the period since June 2020, the NCIs also demonstrated great innovation by sharing the national collections online.

The following presents a summary of key online and other presentations of the National Collections around the country over the period since June 2020:

- The Chester Beatty has presented online tours and public programmes, including lectures, music events, family workshops and cooking demonstrations to over 50,000 audience members in 2021. So far in 2022, the Chester Beatty has brought their object-based learning programmes to primary schools in Kilkenny, Limerick and Louth.

- The IMMA Online programme made thousands of artworks available to audiences around the country through the digitisation of its collection. With “Talking Art Online”, the museum hosts regular talks on the collection with community groups. These are offered to Broadband Connection points in rural areas through the Department of Rural and Community Affairs and IMMA has delivered sessions from Achill Island to Carlow.  IMMA have a network of at least 30 regional centres countrywide often with as many as 250-300 collection loans per year appearing around the country. At present, there are works on loan in Belfast, Galway, Drogheda and Banbridge, Co. Down. All of these were accompanied by learning and engagement programmes devised by IMMA and the collaborating venue. 

- The National Museum of Ireland (NMI) is very active on a national basis, not least at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Park, Co. Mayo, which falls under the aegis of the NMI. The Museum of Country Life hosts onsite tours, schools workshops and community programmes on a regular basis. At present, the NMI has loaned objects - most of which are archaeological - to museums, libraries, art centres and other venues in Kerry, Kildare, Wicklow, Cavan, Derry, Down, Clare, Tipperary, Cork, Meath, Carlow, Monaghan, Limerick, Waterford, Offaly, Fermanagh, Roscommon, Galway and Westmeath.

- The National Concert Hall has delivered a number of programmes online and regionally, including Health & Harmony, their national programme for music for dementia, which was presented at eight national centres in spring 2022, as well as Music in Mind – their national programme for music for mental health, which took place in 5 centres nationally. The NCH intends to tour these programmes to additional centres now that public health restrictions have been removed. The NCH also presented Music in Children’s Hospitals: Kids’ Classics, a national programme bringing music into the paediatric healthcare setting, to hospitals in Dublin, Cork, Drogheda and Limerick during 2021.

- The National Archives brought the exhibition “Treaty 1921 – Records from the Archives” on tour in 2022 following its hugely successful presentation at Dublin Castle. The Anglo-Irish Treaty is one of the most significant historical documents held by the National Archives. Using it as a centrepiece, the National Archives presented an exhibition that marked its role as the official repository of the records of the State, one hundred years since its formation. The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives opened up significant historical records, official documents and private papers for the first time in the history of the State, including the first public presentation of the Treaty document. The exhibition opened in Dublin on 6 December 2021 until the 27 March 2022. A regional tour in partnership with Local Authorities has since visited Wicklow Library and Archives, Source Arts Centre in Thurles, Donegal County Museum, Wexford County Council, St. Peter’s Church in Cork as well as Limerick City and County Council.

- The Crawford Art Gallery in Cork loaned artworks to institutions in Limerick, Louth, Tipperary and Belfast throughout 2021 and 2022. The gallery also organised online educational events, tours and other programming aimed for primary schools, families and the general public including 24 sessions for young residents of direct provision centres. During the closures necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, CAG focused on making resources available to secondary school teachers via the ATAI and the Professional Development Services for Teachers. The gallery also presented several online-only exhibitions that were available to audiences nationwide including “Building as Witness” and “Citizen Nowhere | Citizen Somewhere: The Imagined Nation,” was accompanied by a virtual tour, extensive video content and a national radio campaign to provide the public an opportunity to experience the exhibition virtually.

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