National Museum considers closures and entrance fees to deal with 2015 funding crisis

Board believes funding for next year not enough to cover running costs

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks. Oireachtas approval would be needed to introduce charges here and at the National Museum’s three other constituent museums. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks. Oireachtas approval would be needed to introduce charges here and at the National Museum’s three other constituent museums. Photograph: Paddy Whelan

 

The National Museum of Ireland was last night considering radical proposals to deal with a funding crisis, including closing of some of its sites from January or introducing entry charges.

The museum is due to receive funding of €11.3 million in 2015, equivalent to its 2014 allocation. However, it is understood the museum believes this will be insufficient to cover its running costs and services next year.

A meeting of the board of the museum yesterday considered a series of options, one of which is whether it should put a request to Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys that could lead to the introduction of entry charges. Entrance charges to its four constituent museums – the Natural History museum on Dublin’s Merrion Street, the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology on Kildare Street, the Decorative Arts and History museum in Collins Barracks and the Country Life museum in Co Mayo – would require the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas.

Since 2008, exchequer funding to the organisation has decreased by 40 per cent. Over recent years it has drawn on its financial reserves to address funding shortfalls. However, these reserves are now considered to be exhausted.

Security costs

The museum is seeking further funding to cover liabilities, including costs associated with the collapse of a staircase in the Natural History museum in 2007 and to cover potential retirement costs.

Last month, The Irish Times reported that the National Museum had been forced to close galleries and cut back on educational guided tours due to funding cuts and staff recruitment restrictions.

Staffing numbers

A spokesman for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said yesterday that there were currently no formal requests with the department regarding the charging of entry fees.

There was no response last night to messages left for National Museum director Raghnall Ó Floinn.