Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys has announced the provision of an extra €2m in funding for the National Cultural Institutions.

Some of the funds will be allocated to the National Museum of Ireland, which has been in discussions with the department about serious financial concerns at the organisation.

Ms Humphreys said she was aware of the funding challenges at the National Museum and the National Library
and that the additional funds secured would be used to deal with a number of the issues raised.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime this evening, Ms Humphreys said that as the economy continues to improve, she would hope to be in a position to further increase funding.

She said that she believes that institutions should not charge for entry, adding that it important that the public can access them for free.

Earlier it was reported that the board of the museum had discussed closing all four of its sites from 1 January unless it received an increase in financial support from the Government.

Records of official board meetings obtained by RTÉ's Morning Ireland show the museum resolved to recommend the charging of admission fees or the closure of all four museums unless the finances improved.

The museum board oversees the running of the country's four major museums in Kildare Street, Merrion Street, and Collins Barracks in Dublin, as well as the Museum of Country Life in Castlebar.

The board noted that the failure to secure additional funding would leave the museum under "very considerable financial strain and it would be have no other option but to consider the closure of all four sites from 1 January 2015".

The Government grant for the museum has decreased by 40% since 2008, falling from €19m in 2008 to less than €12m this year.

It has so far relied on cash reserves to keep going, however, now those reserves are almost gone and the museum has had to contemplate what it says are "the gravest of corrective measures with regard to cost".

National Museum of Ireland's board has discussed closing all four of its sites from 1 January 2015


The museum board has warned that it needs an extra €650,000 in funds next year if it is to maintain 2014 levels of expenditure, meaning an operating budget of €12.008m for 2015.
 
It has an overtime bill of €417,000, mostly due to the high cost of providing night-time security in Kildare Street, and Sunday opening on all sites.

At a meeting earlier this year the board discussed the possibility of closing the museum sites on Sundays, which would have resulted in savings of €200,000 in overtime.

However, at the time the board decided not to proceed with such an option as it would have a major impact on visitor services and numbers.

In June of 2014 the board wrote to the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht about two further issues which it said "threaten the financial stability" of the museum.

In the letter the museum board sought assurances that it would not be held liable for claims arising from the collapse of stairs at the Natural History Museum in 2007.

It also warned of the impact on its financial position of making staff pension payments.

Records of a meeting in September show that the board resolved to recommend to the Government the introduction of admission charges at all sites unless extra money was found.

Records also show that the museum has lowered the temperature in the museums to save on heating bills, and has considered allowing alcoholic drinks companies to fund exhibits - although this measure was not implemented.