An original board and steering group, based in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin worked over a number of years to develop a Museum of Childhood initiative. Contacts were established to support the initiative with technical skills, artefacts for the collection, and ongoing commitment to assist in creative content and marketing. A range of potential funders and supporters at policy-making and political level were contacted, and research in relation to such a facility was carried out. Best practice in current curricula informed programme planning, and comparative studies referencing similarly-themed international institutions were completed.
2014 – The initial project group prepared an extensive plan outlining the mission and vision for a Museum of Childhood which identified key markets and impact. Support was garnered from businesses, as well as educational and cultural communities; potential national and international collaborative partnerships were identified and explored
both in the public and private sectors.
2015 – Through its ‘Piggybank’ fundraising shop, a commercial venture (‘Eduventure’), was established to provide early seed funding for the development of the Museum and to facilitate social inclusion by providing funds for freely available community-based programmes. It has continued to support the planning process over subsequent years. A number of initiatives were carried out to gauge interest in a Museum of Childhood, and strong relationships were forged with a range of organisations such as the Irish Genealogical Society, the Dún Laoghaire Historical Society, and the Southside Partnership.
2016 – A board was set up from a broad spectrum of expertise to support the establishment of the Museum, comprising members from diverse fields including education, business, architecture, exhibition and installation design, and visual communications, its purpose being to bring the Museum from concept to creation by outlining the vision and mission and providing a robust business and financial plan. The Board was fortunate to have access to advisors with expertise in museum conservation and curatorship, including advisory support from the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, London. In May 2016, the Museum of Childhood was formally registered as a company (limited by guarantee).
2017 – During 2017, sub-groups were developed in 3 important core areas: education, history, and children’s rights. These groups, each led by experts in their individual fields, have developed policies and strategies for implementation in the museum and beyond, and they have collaborated on Event Days and Exhibitions on these themes. A Business Plan was commissioned from CHL, which has been an important guide in the furthering of the Museum concept.
2018 – While work in the 3 areas of education, history and children’s rights continues, the successful launch of a social media campaign raised the profile of the Museum of Childhood, and by early 2019 its Facebook had more than 20,000 followers. A travelling exhibition, entitled ‘Children in War’ was held in a number of locations.
2019 – The concept was reviewed as the Museum of Childhood Ireland project, and a new Board was constituted. An application for Charitable Status was submitted, in order to operate on the guiding principle of affordability, access and inclusivity for all. To enable this, hybrid funding to include financial and in-kind support from local and national businesses, private donations, grant-aid, a crowd-funding campaign, and a layered membership/support network was envisioned. Advanced research and consultation on a preferred location for a Museum of Childhood Ireland was undertaken, and a programme of policy development commenced, supported by principles of best practice and governance procedures. An important travelling exhibition, ‘Basque Children of ‘37’ was planned.