Making It Happen – initial stages

An original board and steering group, based in Co Dublin, but involving an islandwide 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.

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) fundraising, was established to provide early seed funding for the Museum development and to begin facilitating social inclusion by providing funds for freely available community-based programmes. (It continued to support the museum planning process until it closed in October 2019 and Grace Kelly Fitzgerald became the fundraising Lead for the project. ) 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 in the History, Child Rights, and Education sectors.

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 designB, 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 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, 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 concept was reviewed as the Museum of Childhood Ireland project, and a new Board constituted.  An application for Charitable Status was submitted, and Charitable status was granted, 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.  A 2nd important islandwide Children in War travelling exhibition, ‘The Basque Children of ‘37’ was planned and implemented.

*By 2020 we had 30,00+ followers on Facebook and 3,000+ on Twitter.