Making It Happen – from initial stage to 2021

OVERVIEW. An original board and steering group, based in Co Dublin, and involving an islandwide and diaspora volunteer group, worked over a number of years to develop a Museum of Childhood concept.  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.

Timeline:

2014 – Majella McAllister brought together an initial project group to prepare a 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 –  ‘Piggybank’ (Eduventure Ltd) fundraising, was established with the aim of providing support for a maximum of up to 5 years. With it’s own board, it aimed to provide a project office and early seed funding for the Museum development and to begin facilitating social inclusion, proposal testing, and providing funds for freely available community-based programmes. A number of initiatives were carried out from the premises ( including signatures collected and hosting of Talks / workshops etc) to gauge interest in a Museum of Childhood. Strong relationships were forged with a range of organisations in the History, Child Rights, and Education sectors. All income generated by the hugely successful recycled goods shop provided ALL of the financial support to the museum project from it’s inception until it closed, when it’s 5 year lease concluded in early 2020.

Kay Duggan-Wells then took over as the fundraising Lead for the museum board with her own fundraising initiatives. Her remit, to pay the ongoing costs of the museum and to generate funds for the hire of a professional fundraiser in 2022.

2016 – A board was set up from a broad spectrum of expertise to support the establishment of the Museum proper, comprising members from diverse fields including education, business, architecture, exhibition and installation design, 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 personnel at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, London and the Istanbul Toy Museum, Budapest. In May 2016, the Museum of Childhood was formally registered as a company (limited by guarantee).

2017 – During 2017, sub-groups were developed in 4 important core areas:  education, history, and children’s rights and Youth / Children’s Voices.  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 with funds raised through ‘Piggybank’ from CHL, which has been an important guide in the furthering of the Museum concept.

2018 – While work in the 4 areas of education, history, children’s rights and Voices continues, the successful launch of a social media campaign raised the profile of the Museum of Childhood Ireland, and by early 2019 the museum Facebook had more than 20,000 followers*. A 12 month travelling exhibition, ‘Children in War’ was held in a number of locations across Ireland.

2019 – The Museum of Childhood Ireland submitted an application for Charitable Status and Charitable status was granted. In order to operate on the guiding principle of affordability, access and inclusivity for all, 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 is 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.  A 2nd important islandwide Children in War travelling exhibition, ‘The Basque Children of ‘37’ was planned and implemented.

*By 2021 we had 30,00+ followers on Facebook and 4,000+ on Twitter. We have recently added an Instagram account and a LinkedIn page for the museum.

The focus for our team for 2021 is on locating the permanent home for the Museum of Childhood Ireland and taking the museum from voluntary, unfunded, museum to professional, accredited museum.

Town/ City centre location for frequent visits / community hub

Accessible by bus / train / walking / cycling

Old building to repurpose and restore in line with best practice in conservation and along ‘green’ principles

Flexible interior layout, museum galleries, temporary exhibition / display areas, art galleries, Research area, library, education rooms, theatre, puppet theatre, screening room, workshops, doll hospital, museum shop and coffee shop. Pathways through museum for different age groups and to access the darker stories of Irish childhood history.

Complete accessibility to all areas of the museum for staff and visitors

Some outdoor space. Wild garden, bat and insect boxes, tree planting, vegetable garden, outdoor classroom, free play and picnic space. Rainwater harvesting, recycling, repurposing, and reusing of materials, solar / alternative energy and green roofs where applicable.

The museum will not be confined to the physical building but embrace / radiate out into the community with family friendly routes to and from the location.

2021 will also see the creation of our virtual museum space.