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1IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST:

Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment.  They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artefacts and specimens which they hold in trust for society.

(Museums Association definition 1998)

1.1Museums have an important role to play in society and are uniquely placed to deliver public benefits on a number of fronts. They are not for the few but for everyone and have local, national and international reach. Through their collections and knowledge, they provide real connections to the past, engage with the present and open windows to the future. They are rooted in place and community, and as such are powerful representations of individual, civic, regional and national pride. They promote public enjoyment and understanding of art, history, science and technology and the natural world. They enable stories to be told and interpretations to be drawn, opening up possibilities for enquiry, sharing and debating histories, exploring identities and nurturing social cohesion. They can be truly inspirational; stimulating creativity, invention and innovation.

1.2Museums make a major contribution to, and are a reflection of, economic and social regeneration, community confidence and health and well-being. As such, they help position Northern Ireland as forward-looking and progressive, a place to visit and in which to live, a place for investment, a place that has a rich past and a positive future.

2.A VISION FOR NORTHERN IRELAND’S MUSEUMS

2.1This policy sets out the priorities and goals necessary for Northern Ireland’s museums to deliver on the public benefits outlined above and to ensure that their contribution is recognised, sustained and enhanced.

2.2Museums have the inherent capacity to generate memorable and sometimes life-changing experiences through encounters with collections. This is their unique quality. To do this they must have the resources to safeguard, develop and use their collections. They must present and interpret their collections with sensitivity, flair and imagination. And they need to be in continuous dialogue with their visitors and users, constantly seeking and finding ways to engage with new, diverse audiences. While each museum offers a unique experience, collectively the sector can support personal and community development. Such potential affirms the need to build and strengthen a cohesive and integrated support structure

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