Architecture archive forced to close for two months

Irish Architectural Archive closing for July and August ‘to avoid insolvency’

There will be no public access to the the Irish Architectural Archive’s building on at Merrion Square in Dublin from July 2nd to September 2nd, the archive’s board said.  Photograph: Frank Miller

There will be no public access to the the Irish Architectural Archive’s building on at Merrion Square in Dublin from July 2nd to September 2nd, the archive’s board said. Photograph: Frank Miller

Tue, Jun 18, 2013, 01:00


The Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin, which holds Ireland’s largest collection of building records, is being forced to close for July and August “as a cost-saving measure to avoid insolvency, making all staff temporarily redundant”, its board said.

The total saving from not paying wages for the two months will be €52,000.

The archive, founded in 1976 by Edward McParland and Nicholas Robinson, has been experiencing “very serious financial difficulties since mid-2012” and was facing the prospect of a cumulative deficit of more than €100,000 by the end of 2013.

“The board deeply regrets the inconvenience this closure will cause, and the impact on its staff,” it said, adding that there would be no public access to the building at 45 Merrion Square, Dublin, or its collections from July 2nd to September 2nd.

Anyone doing a thesis or other research project will be particularly affected.

Research
Last year 11,000 people visited the archive, including 3,000 carrying out research using its collection, which includes 2.5 million drawings, 500,000 photographs and a reference library of 30,000 books and other publications.

Efforts to persuade Minister for Arts and Heritage Jimmy Deenihan to bridge the gap failed.

“Unfortunately, due to the reduced overall funding available, the department is not in a position to provide additional funding...at this time,” a spokesman said.

“It’s the unkindest cut of all – proof that things are always chopped at the margins to protect the salaries and pensions of highly-paid civil servants,” one observer said.

“Jimmy Deenihan should be ashamed of himself for allowing this to happen.”

The archive, a limited company with charitable status, collects and preserves drawings and material on Ireland’s architecture – north and south – performing a role that is usually fulfilled by state agencies in other European countries.

Government support for the archive has been cut from €466,000 in 2007 to €315,000 this year, a drop of 32 per cent. The wage bill has also fallen from €383,000 to €344,000 over the same period, but now exceeds public funding for the archive.

Donations
Its temporary closure would have been even longer had the archive not managed to raise €44,000 in donations from 80 private companies and individuals over the past six months. Michael Webb, archive chairman, said: “The response from the archive board, members, staff and friends has been very encouraging, and we are extremely grateful to all those individuals and organisations who have contributed.”