Dáil Éireann - Volume 433 - 07 July, 1993

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - State Artefacts.

14. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if he will divert money intended for interpretative centres towards improvements in facilities in existing galleries/museums or to the use of the generous space in interpretative centres for displaying some of the property of museums/galleries, particularly in view of the fact that many exhibits in our galleries and museums are not put on show to the public due to lack of facilities.

[1454] 30. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if he has plans to have artefacts and works of art, currently stored out of public view in institutions in Dublin relocated and put on display in suitable buildings in provincial towns and cities.

119. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht his views on the question of making artefacts from the National Museum and paintings from the National Gallery available for viewing in the towns and cities of Ireland.

Mr. M. Higgins: Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna 14, 30 agus 119 le chéile.

The question of loaning State artefacts from the national collections is primarily one for the national cultural institutions. Before any such loan can be made the host institution must satisfy the highest standards of security, curation and environmental controls. In the case of the National Museum of Ireland, a further stipulation is that a museum be established as a county or city museum and operated by a local authority.

I can assure the Deputy that institutions such as the National Museum and the National Gallery do make exhibits available to suitable institutions from time to time but such loans are made strictly in accordance with the criteria I have outlined. I fully support this policy of prudent management which is designed to ensure the widest possible access to our heritage consistent with the integrity and safety of the national collections.

The concerns raised by Deputy Sargent will be addressed by me in the process of policy formulation which I am undertaking at present in this area. As I announced earlier, I am proceeding with my review of museums policy.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As the time available is exhausted, I appeal to the Deputy for brevity.

Mr. Sargent: De bharr go bhfuil athbhreithniú á dhéanamh ar na hionaid eolais [1455] faoi láthair, agus an Mullach Mór agus mar sin faoi chaibidil, iarraim ar an Aire an rogha a chur san áireamh mar rogha caiteachais os rud é go bhfuil sonraí seandálaíochta i dtaisce agus níl éinne chun iad a fheiceáil má leanann an scéal mar sin. Is rogha atá i gceist agam seachas aon leigheas amháin.

Mr. M. Higgins: Ar an gcéad dul síos, ceapaim gur féidir cás a dhéanamh i bhfábhar na n-institiúidí éagsúla as a n-inniúlacht. Fiú amháin má fhágtar nithe conspóideacha as an áireamh, tá cás le déanamh ar son caiteachas a chur isteach chun riarachán agus eagar ceart agus eagrais chuí a chur ar fáil do na hiarsmalanna, na gailearaithe náisiúnta agus na hinstitiúidí eile. Glacaim leis, mura mbeadh an cheist eile san áireamh, agus dá mba rud é go raibh airgead ar fáil d'fhéadfaí an cheist a phlé cén chaoi ab fhearr é a chaitheamh.

Mar a luaigh mé sa fhreagra — agus fáiltím roimh an cheist — tá iarsmaí ar iasacht do na contaetha éagsúla: mar shampla, tá artefacts ar iasacht faoi láthair ag Fear Manach, Ciarraí, Tiobraid Árann theas, Leitir Ceanainn i nDún na nGall, Corcaigh, Muineachán, Loch Garman agus Luimneach. Is féidir liom samplaí a thabhairt maidir leis an Ghailearrí Náisiúnta. Tá 359 bpictiúr ar iasacht ag gailearaithe agus áiteanna eile ina gcomhlíontar na coinníollacha a luaigh mé. Déanfaidh mé mo dhícheall an cinneadh is fearr a dhéanamh ó thaobh an todhchaí de maidir le struchtúir na n-institiúidí éagsúla agus, i leith aon airgid bhreise, bheinn ag súil le cás a dhéanamh chun cúrsaí ealaíne, cultúir agus Gaeltachta a chur chun cinn.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Ceist deiridh ón Teachta Máirín Quill.

Miss Quill: Despite what he has said will the Minister acknowledge that there is a large number of works of art hidden behind closed doors in attics and so on? This should not be allowed to continue. It is not just a question of providing more money; a change of attitude is required [1456] in some cases where works of art could be exhibited in public buildings such as libraries, etc. in provincial towns and other cities.

Mr. M. Higgins: There are very clear criteria governing this issue and it would be very difficult to dispute any one of them, for example, environmental considerations, the kind of facilities which are available, transport and safety. They are very important considerations when one is talking about the property of the people.

Miss Quill: I am talking about public buildings which would fully meet these criteria.

Mr. M. Higgins: I hope that all items in the national collection will be more widely exhibited. The enthusiasm for such a development is very real and I welcome it. I favour going in the direction suggested by the Deputy in a flexible way. This is why we need policies. We cannot scatter the national collection all over the country all of the time but we should certainly share it — it is part of our heritage. We must do this in a safe way.

The Deputy correctly asked why more works of art were not displayed in public buildings. I would ask an equally good question: how can so much money be spent on public institutions of all kinds, for example, hospitals, without any provision for works of art? The Deputy will agree that there is great importance attached to the 1 per cent scheme. I would like to think that people who are not bound by the 1 per cent scheme would look seriously at public buildings to see if they could meet the criteria and seek loans to develop them or, more important, encourage local artists to take advantage of the opportunities which exist. This would also give us an indication that the local authorities are taking seriously the commitment which is very real in my Department.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That concludes questions for today.