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Top city museums warn of cash crisis closures

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National Museum on Kildare Street

National Museum on Kildare Street

National Museum on Kildare Street

All four National Museums may be forced to shut their doors from January 1 unless financial support from the Government increases.

The board of the National Museum has considered many different ways of saving money, such as charging an entrance fee or closing on Sundays to cut down on security overtime.

But now the board is threatening closure because it is operating on nearly depleted cash reserves.

It has even turned down the heating to save on its energy bills, and considered allowing alcoholic drinks companies to fund exhibits.

strain

The museum board oversees the running of the country's four major museums in Kildare Street, Merrion Street and Collins Barracks in Dublin, as well as the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar.

Records of official board meetings, seen by RTE, show it noted that failure to secure additional funding would leave the museum under "very considerable financial strain and it would be have no other option but to consider the closure of all four sites".

The Government grant for the museum has decreased by 40pc in the last six years, falling from €19m in 2008 to less than €12m this year.

The board warned that it needs an extra €650,000 next year if it is to maintain current levels of expenditure, meaning an operating budget of €12m for 2015.

Its current overtime bill is €417,000, mostly due to the high cost of providing night time security in Kildare Street, and Sunday opening on all sites.

The board had discussed closing the museums on Sundays to save €200,000 in overtime but decided against it as it would have a major impact on visitor services and numbers.

Records of a meeting in September show that the board resolved to recommend to the Government the introduction of admission charges at all sites, unless extra money was found.

A senior figure in the organisation said negotiations with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are now at an advanced stage, and the museum is hopeful of getting a resolution to its current difficulties.

award

The official said no formal proposal for the introduction of admission fees or the closure of sites has been submitted to the Minister as of yet.

Meanwhile, the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life, in Castlebar, Co. Mayo has been awarded the Sandford Award for Heritage Education 2014.

The Heritage Education Trust recognised the museum for the high quality of its learning programmes for a broad range of audiences including primary and post-primary schools from all around the country.

news@herald.ie


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