The Council of Europe Museum Prize 2022 has gone to Nano Nagle Place, a museum, community hub and working convent in Cork city, Ireland.
Now in its 46th year, the prize is awarded annually to a museum judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding of European cultural heritage, to promoting the values of democracy, human rights, intercultural dialogue, and to bridging cultures and overcoming social and political borders.
Nano Nagle Place, which opened in its current form in 2017, is a complex of historic buildings established by Nano Nagle, an 18th-century nun who set up secret schools for the city's poor at a time when Catholics were barred from education under the penal laws.
The site features a museum dedicated to Nagle and a monument that houses her tomb, as well as a convent graveyard, gardens, an archive, cafe and learning facilities. Nuns from the Presentation Sisters, a Catholic order founded by Nagle, continue to live at the convent and run the Cork Migrant Centre and the Lantern Community Project.
The culture committee of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, which selects the winner, acknowledged the museum's educational and spiritual work with asylum seekers and refugees, as well as its community education and development services.
Committee representative for the Museum Prize, Roberto Rampi, said: “Despite being rooted in the specific religious tradition of Roman Catholicism, with nuns still living on the site, there is a strong sense of caring based on need, not on doctrine. Nano Nagle Place has a very strong and coherent mission which is in line with the Council of Europe’s human rights values and principles.”
Nano Nagle Place CEO Shane Clarke said: “It’s a huge honour to win the Council of Europe Museum Prize. Nano Nagle was a true European. Having spent her youth in France, she also looked to Europe for help and inspiration when she invited the Ursuline Sisters to come to Cork.
“Nano Nagle addressed the needs she saw before her in the 18th century, and at Nano Nagle Place we continue in that spirit, addressing the societal issues before us today. We are both moved and proud that the culture committee of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has recognised our twin missions of celebrating the daring endeavours of Nano Nagle in the past, while continuing her work to address new societal issues in the present.”
The prize is part of the European Museum of the Year Awards (Emya). Recent winners include the Gulag History Museum in Moscow (2021), the National Museum of Secret Surveillance “House of Leaves” in Tirana (2020) and the Museum of Communication in Bern (2019).
The winners in other Emya categories will be announced at the 2022 annual conference and award ceremony, which takes place at the Estonian National Museum, Tartu, from 4 to 7 May 2022.