Annual Conference

The IMA organises a themed Annual Conference in spring each year, offering an opportunity for members of the Irish museums community to meet, network and discuss issues of relevance for the Irish museum sector.

The 2015 Annual Conference - Museums in Society: Navigating Public Policy was held on Friday 27 February - Sunday 1 March 2015 at the Ulster Museum, National Museums Northern Ireland, Belfast.

It examined how museums respond to, and negotiate, policy directions and focused in particular on museums' role in relation to social inclusion, education, economic regeneration, and tourism agendas.

Invited speakers and conference participants shared their experiences and expertise on the interdependent relationship between government bodies and museums: the ‘mirror and lamp' effect whereby public policies both reflect and guide the functions and missions of the museum and vice versa. The conference examined how museums can better position themselves to reflect changes within society and in government policies, while at the same time performing their historical roles of custodianship, presentation and scholarship. How should museums approach the difficult task of fulfilling these multiple, and sometimes competing, functions?

Invited and Selected Speakers were:

David Anderson Director General, Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museum Wales)
Rebecca Blake
Regeneration and Community Partnerships Coordinator, Tate Britain
Lorraine Comer
Head of Education, National Museum of Ireland
Hannah Crowdy
Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland
Paddy Gilmore
Director of Learning and Partnership, National Museums Northern Ireland
Helen Johnston
Museum Assistant, REACH project, Museum of Orange Heritage
Megan Johnston
Director, The Model: Home of the Niland Collection
Michael King
Curator, Down County Museum
Kim Mawhinney
Head of Art, National Museums Northern Ireland 
Declan McGonagle
Director, National College of Art and Design, Dublin
Grainne Miller
Director, GM Innovations
Paul Mullan
Head of Heritage Lottery Fund Northern Ireland
Dermot Mulligan
Curator, Carlow County Museum
Helen O’Carroll
Curator, Kerry County Museum
Feargal O’Coigligh
Assistant Secretary, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Mairead Quinn
PhD student, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, University of Ulster
Cynthia Smith
Acting Permanent Secretary, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure
Michael Starrett
Chief Executive, The Heritage Council of Ireland
Marie Taylor
Scholar, The Hunt Museum
Brian Walsh
Curator, Dundalk County Museum
Siebe Weide
Director General, Museumvereniging (Netherlands Museum Association)

To view the programme, click here

To view Bios and Abstracts, click here for Friday, 27 Feb. and here for Saturday, 28 Feb

Selected papers from the Annual Conference are published in the Annual Journal, Museum Ireland, Vol. 25, 2015.


The 2016 Conference will be held in Dublin from the 26 to 28 of February 2016 at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, 'Museums for Society: Towards a Cultural Democracy'.

Click here to download the call for papers.

For further enquiries, click here to send an email to Ms Gina O'Kelly