Ulster Museum, part of NMNI.

Northern Ireland Museums Council may merge with NMNI

Patrick Steel, 09.12.2014
Government review of arms-length bodies considers merger
A review of arms-length bodies by the Northern Ireland Executive’s Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) is considering a merger between the Northern Ireland Museums Council (NIMC) and National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI).

According to a DCAL spokesman, the department is still at a consultation stage with stakeholders. A merger of the two organisations is an option, he confirmed, but at this stage there is no date for the end of the consultation process.

A spokeswoman for NMNI said the merger was “under consideration” but nothing had been decided yet.

Chris Bailey, the director of NIMC, said: “We are looking forward to exploring the full range of options with stakeholders, particularly to examine the pros and cons to ensure that NIMC’s work continues to be delivered in an effective and efficient way.”

A review of NMNI, which reported in March 2014, shortlisted two options for the national museums – remain as arms-length bodies or transfer into DCAL – before concluding that the organisation should remain independent of the department.

The NMNI review also looked at the possibility of merging NMNI within another body, and concluded: “The most suitable candidate for merger is NIMC. This option is considered within the NIMC stage 2 analysis and a decision on this is unlikely to impact on the final decision on NMNI.”

Both NIMC and NMNI face cuts of more than 10% in DCAL’s draft budget for 2015-16.

A news analysis of changes in the Northern Ireland museum sector will be in the January edition of Museums Journal.


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Stephen McManus
Keeper of Collections, Milford House Museum
09.12.2014, 19:20
I would be very concerned about the prospect of NIMC merging with National Museums Northern Ireland. NIMC is extremely important and deserves to be given more powers and remain independent. National Museums Northern Ireland have in my experience not been very open in sharing their collections and I would worry how a merger would impact on the excellent service of NIMC.