Popular Derry museum receives prestigious award

The Museum of Free Derry in the Bogside is the latest recipient of the lauded MSPI award for museums of high professional standard.

There’s even more reason to visit the second-largest city in the North as this popular Derry museum bags a prestigious award.

The Museum of Free Derry, located deep in Derry’s Bogside, has been given a special accolade under the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI) following an online ceremony on 27 June 2021. 

The MSPI was established by the Heritage Council. The award exists to recognise the achievement of professional standards within the Irish museum sector. The achievement will be seen as a prestigious achievement for the Museum of Free Derry.

The Museum of Free Derry – storing Derry’s history

This popular Derry museum receives a prestigious award for excellence.
Credit: Facebook / @mofd.derry

The Museum of Free Derry, according to its own website, is the “people’s story of government oppression”. It covers “the struggle for civil rights, the descent into conflict, Free Derry, and Bloody Sunday”.

It catalogues the tragic, divided, resilient, and revolutionary history that dominated Derry politics and society for decades. The museum covers all of the principal periods of political upheaval that affected the city.

Amongst its inventory is the Free Derry Story, the Battle of the Bogside, and Operation Motorman.

Visitors can also find out about the conflict in Northern Ireland and the civil rights campaign that preceded the conflict. You can also discover the period of internment, and Bloody Sunday.

The museum takes you from the murders in January 1972 to the British Government apology in 2010.

The MSPI award – recognising the museum’s professional standards

The MSPI award recognises the museum's professional standards.
Credit: Facebook / @mofd.derry

The MSPI’s website describes how the programme exists to “benchmark and promote professional standards in the care of collections and to recognise through accreditation the achievement of those standards within the Irish museum sector”.

So, it’s a great accolade for this popular Derry museum to receive such a prestigious award.

The MSPI award is now in its 16th year, and the Museum of Free Derry has joined 47 other museums to have received full accreditation.

The MSPI considers factors such as how museums care for their collections and visitors. They also take into account their education programmes, the storing and displaying of artefacts, and museum governance and policies. 

Choosing Derry – why the museum received full accreditation

This Derry museum received the prestigious award.
Credit: Facebook / @mofd.derry

Part of the reason why the popular Derry museum received the prestigious award was due to its steady rise in visitors. It had reached a total of 38,000 in 2019.

Michael Parsons, Chairman of the Heritage Council, spoke to the news about the award. He 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 is testament to the vibrancy in this sector, and it augurs well for the future”.

Awarding Irish museums – Derry among other historical centres

Kilkenny Castle also received the prestigious award.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The Museum of Free Derry was among a total of ten museums that received accreditation from the MSPI. The Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, Kilkenny Castle, and the Thomas MacDonagh Museum all received ‘full accreditation’.

The remainder received the ‘maintenance of accreditation’ award. These were Dublin Castle State Apartments, Farmleigh in Dublin, and the GAA Museum in Dublin.

Galway City Museum, Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda, and Rathfarnham Castle in Dublin also received awards in this category.

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