Clare Champion, Friday, November 15, 2002
Numbers going to Clare County Museum have more than doubled in its second year of operation, figures released this week reveal. According to a spokesman for the museum, over 9,000 people passed through the museum in its second year. This represents a 125% increase on the disappointing figures of 4,000 visitors who attended the museum in its first year. The spokesman said, "9,000 is an incredible performance in the context of county museums. It is definitely going in the right direction".
"Since the first year, we have increased our marketing presence and that is now paying dividend and anyone who visits the museum is very much impressed". The spokesman commented that a key decision was the move to allow students free entry into the museum and this decision, in part, explains the massive jump in numbers going through the museum.
However, the 4.5 million Euro project continues to be a drain on the finances of Clare County and Ennis Town Councils, prompting Ennis Town Council member Michael Guilfoyle to say at this month's meeting, "Is the county museum a white elephant?" After reading the council's annual financial statement, which included reference to expenditure of 122,000 on the museum by the town authority, Councillor Guilfoyle asked, "Can we afford to have the museum and put the money to better use and spend it more wisely?". He added, "We can't afford to be careless with out money anymore and after attending a seminar at the weekend, it is going to be a tough two for local authorities. It is time to look at our books".
However, Coucillor Michael Corely, who is a member of the Museum Management Committee, said that they were looking at ways of increasing revenue. Last December, the County Council agreed to pay 105,000 euro toward the operation of the county museum during 2002, which currently employs four people. However, a spokesman for the museum said that the attraction was never intended to be a profit-making facility adding, "It is something akin to a county library".
The museum is also looking at a series of initiatives to bolster its public profile and acquiring a number of important exhibits from the National Museum of Ireland next year. He said that the museum will be putting on a series of travelling exhibitions around the libraries in the county. The spokesman concluded, "We are very happy with the performance of the museum over the past year and we are becoming more integrated into the community. The teachers that have come here with students have been so impressed with it that they come back with their families a few days later".