The total visitor figures to the 4 sites of the National Museum of Ireland
for 2011 is 1,096,027 which was not only a 10% increase on 2010 but also the highest figure ever for visits to the Museum. The reasons for this increase were public programming, the exhibitions and galleries but also Free Admission which given the current economic climate, means everyone can visit the museum regardless of income. In addition, the number of tourists visiting Ireland increased by 7% in 2011 which also contributed to the increase in the NMI visitor figures.
Commenting on the increase, Dr. Pat Wallace, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, said: We are delighted to have achieved well over 1 million visitors last year. This is our highest figure ever. Each of our 4 sites (3 in Dublin and 1 in Castlebar, Co. Mayo) performed very well in 2011. Cut backs in our budget for 2012 means that it will probably be a long time again before we equal the 2011 figures which is extremely regrettable as is the unfortunate decoupling of tourism from heritage.
The Kildare Street site has had the 2nd highest figure ever and an overall 10% increase on 2011. Last June we re-launched The Treasury Celtic and Early Christian Ireland at this site. This is a new exhibition which introduces the recently-conserved Faddan More Psalter in the context of the National Museums re-display of its world famous collection of masterpieces from Celtic and Early Christian Ireland.
The Decorative Arts & History site at Collins Barracks had a 14% increase on last year. This site is home to a myriad of galleries to cater for all ages and tastes. Last year, we re-opened an exhibition titled Reconstructed Rooms : Four Centuries of Furnishing. This exhibition displays some of the National Museum of Ireland's furniture collection spanning across 4 centuries - in a series of room settings.
The Natural History site had an exceptionally good year - resulting in an all-time high of 289,172 visitors. This museum has its own charm and attracts many family, school and group visitors alike many come back for second and third visits.
The Country Life site in Castlebar, Co. Mayo was marginally down on 2010. However, it still managed to achieve over 108K visitors which is a good annual return. This museum achieved its 10th anniversary in 2011 which was celebrated by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, T.D who played a great part in establishing it when he was Minister for Tourism. This award-winning Museum is home to the National Folklife Collection which represents traditional life in Ireland up to fairly recent times. It is set in the grounds of Turlough Park, outside Castlebar.
A major reason for the increase in visitors to the museum is free admission.