Clare Champion, Friday, January 7, 2005
Following the abolition of admission fees at Clare Museum last June, a total of 34,000 visitors have visited Clare Museum in 2004. This was significantly up on the 9,000 paying visitors in 2003. Research considered by Clare County Council’s community and cultural policy committee showed that most of the other nine local authority museums in Donegal, Cork, Limerick, Tipperary, Monaghan, Louth and Cavan do not charge admission fees. It was considered by the committee that charging for entry to Clare Museum was counterproductive, discouraging visits and making Clare County Council’s social inclusion commitments more difficult to achieve.
In recent months a new emphasis on developing the museum as a community resource has seen the number of school children visiting the museum increase from 1,500 in 2003 to over 2,000 in 2004. The Clare Heritage Circle, a new countywide partnership dedicated to promoting and sharing the unique heritage of Clare, was established during the year, helping to increase the profile of the museum locally.
Visitors to the town, both foreign and Irish, have also responded to the free admission policy and at the height of the summer up to 2,500 visitors per week were viewing the Riches of Clare exhibition.
To put this success in context, a recent survey of visitors at local authority-run museums in the county has placed Clare Museum second behind Kerry County Museum with 37,000 visitors and ahead of Waterford City Museum with 27,000. This is a major achievement considering that both these museums are older and more established attractions.
It is intended to build on the success of this year in 2005. An attractive programme of temporary exhibitions is planned along with the development of strong links with community groups countywide.