Irish Museums Trust
Fundúireacht Iarsmalanna na hÉireann
c/o National Botanic Gardens
Dublin 9

Irish Museums Trust

Recipients | 2023

In total, eight grants were awarded in 2023 – three grants were awarded in the first cycle and five in the latter cycle.

The intention of the awards is to support museum professionals and researchers who wish to investigate a subject relevant to the understanding, management or development of museum practice across the island.

The eight grant recipients are:

Dr Martyn Linnie

Dr Martyn Linnie is curator of the Zoological Museum and chief technical officer in Trinity College Dublin. He has written over 30 scientific publications and articles on museum collections and natural history but is particularly fond of writing about the colourful ‘residents’ of the 200-year-old Zoological Museum collection.  

The research development grant awarded will be used to support the publication of a book on a unique museum with a history that dates back over 200 years. The book will the remarkable story of a museum ‘hidden’ in the heart of Ireland’s oldest university. Despite its long history, little has been formally published on the individual stories behind this collection. Written by its curator, the book seeks to redress that imbalance, and in doing so, fulfil a personal ambition to permanently record the rich narrative behind the Zoological Museum. The Unnatural History of Animals – Tales from a Zoological Museum (working title) will be the first book of its kind to be published in Ireland.

Susan Leen

Visual Artist and educator, Susan Leen is Education Assistant at The National Print Museum (and Firestation Studios and DCU artist in residence). 

Susan’s research project involves creating an artist’s book, taking as a departure point text and topography and the book objects’ role in assimilating knowledge about the world around us. Drawing on printing heritage she will create a book looking at Dublin environment printed on the museum’s Vandercook press.

Cathal Dowd Smith

Cathal holds a degree in the History of Art and Architecture and History from Trinity College Dublin. Cathal’s current research interests are in the Irish country house, and the architectural and landscape history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He works as the Curator and Collections Manager of Newbridge House and Malahide Castle, Co. Dublin.

Cathal’s research project is to look at recent best-practise conservation work of English country houses to inform forthcoming conservation of the decorative interiors of Malahide Castle and a renewed picture hang. Experiencing recently restored interiors, seeing first-hand the results of the restoration work, and seeing how the English sites interpret and communicate the restoration work to the public will give insight for how to best present it considering the work to be undertaken in Malahide Castle.

Simon O’Connor

Simon is Director of the Museum of Literature Ireland.

Simon’s workshop based research project is developing a 6 week course to coach institutional directors in philanthropic best practice – how to engage with existing and prospective donors, pitches and  how to inspire further giving.  The aim of the research project is to develop a better understanding of processes around philanthropic donor management for museums, specifically regarding the role of the Director.

Dr. Fernando Sanches-Migellón Cano

Fernando received his BA in Art History and Archaeology from University College Dublin. He completed his PhD, titled ‘The Power of Display: Exhibition Culture and Exhibited Culture in Ireland 1973 – 1991’, through the School of History and Humanities, Trinity College Dublin. His major field of research is contemporary art history and its application to museum studies focusing on the socio-cultural impact of exhibition making.

This research project extends from Fernndo’s doctoral work, focusing on the influential 1977-1984 touring exhibition ‘Treasures of Early Irish Art’. It aims to delve deeper into the historical context and museological practices shaping the presentation of cultural artefacts during this pivotal period in Irish history. Four key objectives guide the research: (1) contextualizing the early Irish museological landscape through meticulous examination of records and artefacts; (2) analysing curatorial choices and display techniques to understand their impact on public perception of Irish art; and (3) bridging academic scholarship with public engagement to inform contemporary museology.

Caitríona ní Dhubháin 

Caitríona is curator of Músaem Chorca Dhuibhne, Ballyferriter, since January 2022.  She studied Celtic Studies (Old Irish, Archaeology and Early Irish History) in UCD and subsequently worked as finds supervisor on  many excavations. She has published historical chapters on medieval archaeological sites including the Mill at Kilbegly, Co. Roscommon, Desmond Castle in Adare and Boyle Abbey, Co. Roscommon.  

As curator, Caitriona is responsible for the management and administration of the museum’s in-house calibration system and the grant will support her in upskilling her technical knowledge of instruments used in measuring light, temperature and humidity by attending the National Metrology Laboratory (under the NSAI) run training courses for professionals in the fields of measurement and calibration.

Marie-Louise Blaney 

Marie-Louise is education curator of The Model, Home of the Niland Collection in Sligo.

The grant will be used to fund Marie-Louise’s travel to the Venice Biennale 2024 to study, research and gather new perspectives for her project ‘Routes and Roots’ which aims to question Western definitions of art in the Global South and East.

Mary Plunkett

Mary  is Education Officer at the National Print Museum, she is also a designer and printmaker, specialising in letterpress and book arts. She has been a workshop facilitator with the museum since 2012 and joined the staff in 2019.  

The Association of European Printing Museums (AEPM) conference is an annual event bringing together print museums, print artists, researchers and enthusiasts from across Europe and on a global scale. Over three days conversations, lessons and exchanges will contribute to the active survival and exchange of knowledge.  The grant awarded will be used to fund Mary’s attendance at this event, taking place at the TYPA Museum, Workshop, and Gallery in Tartu, Estonia. It will facilitate meeting and networking with other museum and print professionals in her specific area of interest.