What is it? The Museum Standards Programme for Ireland is a set of professional standards in collections care and its purpose aims to recognise the achievement of those standards within the Irish museum sector.
Where is it done? Accreditation is open to all Irish museums that meet the eligibility criteria and is achievable in all museums of all sizes and levels of funding.
Who uses it? Participants range from national institutions, through local authority, to private, cooperative, and small volunteer run museums.
Why is it used? It is used to set a base line for management of collections in not-for-profit institutions that collect, safeguard, hold in trust, research, develop and interpret collections of original objects and items on loan, for the public benefit.
When is it used? The standards are introduced and need to be accepted and complied with continuously by all members of staff from the Board down.
Which? There is no choice in levels of standards for the museums, so one size fits all and is recognised throughout the country and international culture sector. A consultant coordinator has been appointed by the Heritage Council to manage the programme.
Once the museum is informed of it’s eligibility, members of the museum’s staff will be invited to attend an orientation, where they will be introduced to the people involved in the programme and be given an overview of the accreditation process.
They will also be introduced to their mentor museum. Our first mentor museum was the Print Museum, then following their closure for moving to a new location, we were mentored by the Kilmainham museum.
The specific Standards of the MSPI is based on 34 minimum standards divided into 7 categories:
1. Constitution and policies.
2. Museum management.
3. Caring for the collection.
4. Documenting the collection.
7. Visitor care and access.
Twenty Five of the Standards relate to Interim Accreditation and nine relate to Full Accreditation. It can take up to five years from receipt of the application for eligibility to achieve all the Standards.The process is divided into 3 stages which take the museum to Interim Accreditation and ultimately to Full Accreditation:
Stage 1: Self -assessment review.
Museums spend 5 to 6 months reviewing their operation against the Standards and further questions on the Accreditation Application Form. This review should involve both museum personnel and their governing bodies, which will be a comprehensive self-assessment of their entire operation. The museum will submit the
Accreditation Application Form and supporting documentation, usually by the end of June.
The museum will receive its 1st Assessment site visit from 2 MSPI Assessors. A follow-up report will confirm their findings both for the museum and the Heritage council.
Stage 2: Application for Interim Accreditation.
Following the 1st Assessment, the museum had up to 20 months to prepare and apply for Interim Accreditation. Invites to a rotating series of workshops run by the Heritage Council was organised to complement other training requirements to achieve the standards. At the end of this stage (which was September 2021), the museum submitted the Interim Accreditation Application and included supporting documents.
The Assessment took place on 10th November 2021 by ZOOM, and the 2 assessors Final Report was forwarded to the Advisory Group for review. This Advisory Group made recommendations to the Heritage Council to award Interim Accreditation Status to the National Maritime Museum of Ireland under the MSPI. We have Interim Accreditation! The awards ceremony is in Kilkenny Castle on the 13th July 2022.
Stage 3: Application for Full Accreditation.
Museums usually apply for Full Accreditation within 12 to 24 months of applying for Interim Accreditation. We have decided to apply in September 2023.
Maintenance of Accreditation.
Accredited organisations are required to submit an application to confirm maintenance of the standards within 3 years of receiving their Final Accreditation Certificate.
We all learnt a lot about the museum and how to care for our collection of artefacts professionally. There were a lot of new procedures and practices to be set up and recorded in the Documentation Manual. Which in time will prove to be useful. It is a recognition in the industry achieved by volunteers which could lead to the borrowing of significant items to enhance our exhibitions. It was challenging & interesting work.