Derry museum receives ‘excellence’ award in post-COVID tourism boost

The Museum of Free Derry has received a special accolade under the prestigious Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI), coordinated by The Heritage Council.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 11:56 am
The Museum of Free Derry in Glenfada Park in Derry. DER0717GS009
The Museum of Free Derry in Glenfada Park in Derry. DER0717GS009

It comes as the sector prepares a fightback against the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The certificates were presented at a special online ceremony last week.

Established by the Heritage Council to benchmark and promote professional standards, selection under the MSPI is seen as a major accolade in the sector.

Factors taken into account include how museums care for their collections and visitors, as well as governance and management standards, and their education and exhibition programmes.

Awarding the Museum of Free Derry full accreditation, the assessors noted how visitor numbers continue to grow, reaching 38,000 in 2019.

“The ownership of 90% of the Museum’s artefacts rests with the families of the Bloody Sunday victims which the family’s treasure and value.

“It has taken advice from MSPI and from the Northern Ireland Museums Council and has developed its museum-specific care and curatorial systems in line with advice. It is a tightly-run operation with much dependent on the manager who has now widened his role, through MSPI, to work also as a curator of the collections.”

The MSPI programme, now in its 16th year, sets the benchmark for ‘excellence’ in the museum sector.

Since its inception, a total of 47 museums have received full accreditation.

Chairman of the Heritage Council, Michael Parsons said: “This programme is the gold standard for Irish museums. Taking approximately five years to achieve full accreditation (interim accreditation usually after three years), it is a huge commitment on behalf of the participants.”

Chief Executive of The Heritage Council, Virginia Teehan, said: “I’d like to compliment those involved in all the hard work they have done by way of raising standards to a new level.

“The range of activities carried out by the various recipients in testament to the vibrancy in this sector and augurs well for the future.”