Champion, Friday, July 11, 2003
(Extracted from the Clare Library supplement)
There have been over 11,000 visitors to the Clare Museum website since it was launched by Minister Sile de Valera in February 2002. Designed and maintained by the IT section at Clare Library, the museum website is a valuable outreach tool for the museum, providing the visitor with general information on the facility. It also provides a 21st century method of access to the collection as photographs of many objects from both the Riches of Clare exhibition and the museum store can be found there.
This method of accessing the collection has proved to be very successful with schools, and each month, in co-operation with the Clare Education Centre, Clare Museum provides a quiz, based on the captions that accompany the artifacts, to all schools in the county, with prizes, sponsored by the Clare Association, for the winners. In March 2003, for example, over 600 hits on the website could be attributed to the school quiz. Indeed, the website has developed into an important promotional tool as many of the schools that take part in the monthly quiz usually follow up with a visit to the actual museum shortly after. Teachers Tom and Nuala Lynch of Ennis CBS brought their classes to Clare Museum and in a letter to the curator afterwards commented, “our classes thoroughly enjoyed and really benefitted from their visit to the county museum. It will be an annual visit”.
The website is updated regularly with photographs of artifacts and also the articles based on them that are published almost weekly in the Clare Champion. Clare Museum is the only local authority museum to have developed such a resource and the website is gradually becoming an important source of historical information for the people of County Clare. The electronic access to the collection has actually resulted in a number of donations from overseas. For example, Ellen Murphy of Brooklyn, New York donated a letter she had in her possession written by a Patrick Hennessy, an IRA man from Clooney, in Limerick Prison in January 1923, having found a similar letter by the same man on the museum website.
Currently the museum is exhibiting artifacts from its reserve collections at branch libraries at Shannon and Kilkee. In an attempt to extend access to the museum collection throughout the county, it is intended to expand this initiative as much as possible in the coming years. Captions with these artifacts will be limited due to space restrictions, but interested viewers will be able to access additional information on each object from the museum website which will be available on the internet at each library.
Clare Museum is also involved in establishing a network of museums and heritage centres around the county in an attempt to exploit areas of mutual benefit for each attraction, particularly in areas such as education and promotion.