Developing new ways to increase footfall to the Cork Public museum is essential. There is no doubt in my mind that the museum is a professionally run operation within the City Council remit. The museum over several years now has been developing and hosting great exhibitions, has pursued best practice, made connections with the archaeology department of UCC, and has attempted to engage the public.
But like all things heritage in the city, more money needs to be invested in publicising the various exhibitions and the public relations surrounding such exhibitions.
I don’t think we have maximised what the Museum can do to promote heritage in our city. We haven’t maximised its potential to work with City Schools and heritage organisations. The museum really needs an educational officer. It needs a digital development officer; some of its objects needs to be photographed and collections need to be digitised and all placed online. I would love to see an online catalogue of key objects and documents. It’s seems to me the museum is understaffed. There is essentially one very enthusiastic staff officer doing everything from admin to exhibition preparation. This has had a huge effect on limiting the potential of the site.
I don’t subscribe moving the museum to the city centre I think the museum is in a great location in Fitzgerald’s Park and the Mardyke nearby is also UCC, Banks of the Lee walkway, Sunday’s Well Boating and Tennis Club, Cork Cricket Club, the Shaky Bridge, Cork City Gaol Heritage Centre, Lifetime Lab and the Lee Fields. This is a really beautiful quarter of the city, which the City Council and other agencies needs to promote more. In 2019, the Mardyke Walk will be 300 years old and if are unable to promote the stories of three centuries in this quarter of town, then there is a major problem in how we approach our heritage.
The revamp of Fitzgerald’s Park has brought new audiences to use the park but many of these uses (music concerts, showing films) should connect more with the museum as well. Recent walking tours I have had of Fitzgerald’s Park show that the public have a huge interest in the story of the Cork International Exhibition. Plus also way back in the 1960s the park was chosen as the unofficial sculpture park of the city being fed by donations by such sculptures such as Seamus Murphy. The park is also an open air art museum, which also has a great indoor museum.
I await with interest the response by the Council executive to developing new innovative ways of increasing footfall developing educational programmes and showcasing the heritage of this corner of the city are crucial to the debate.