Mark Taylor, director of the Museums Association (MA), has defended Ulster Museum against “unacceptable” political interference after Nelson McCausland, Northern Ireland’s minister for culture, arts and leisure, called on the museum to recognise creationism as an alternative view of the origin of the universe.
In a letter to the chairman of Ulster’s board of trustees, McCausland said that museums in Northern Ireland must do more to recognise “the diversity of traditions that exist in Northern Ireland”.
The Unionist minister also urged the trustees to consider how museums could reflect the role of the Orange Order and the Ulster-Scots tradition in exhibitions.
Speaking to BBC Ulster this morning, Taylor said: “National museums belong to the people of Northern Ireland not the minister.”
Click here to listen to the full interview
In the letter, McCausland said: “[Trustees should] consider how alternative views of the origin of the universe and the origin of life can be recognised and accommodated in national museums.”
He also requested that trustees update the 2010/11 business plan to reflect any changes and send it to him for approval.
The letter ends: “[Ongoing dialogue with you is] essential in understanding the range of views and concerns that exist in our society and how best we can care for and present inspirational collections that reflect the creativity, innovation, history, culture and people of Northern Ireland.”
Taylor said: “It’s one thing to argue that museums and other publicly-funded institutions reflect the values that form the new concern in Northern Ireland.
"But this should be done as part of long-term corporate strategy planning, not as a list of detailed demands to be implemented in the short term - that is unreasonable and unacceptable.”
(Image: Ulster Museum)