Museums and galleries should be used to enhance the night-time economy and become places where people can "simply hang-out", an Oireachtas Committee has heard.

TDs and Senators were today discussing the impact of Covid-19 on National Cultural Institutions, with representatives from the National Museum of Ireland and the Irish Museums Association.

The Chair of the National Museum of Ireland told the committee that as Ireland emerges from the pandemic, she believed there was an opportunity to consider the wider and deeper role of cultural institutions.

Catherine Heaney referred to the Cultural Quarter in Vienna and other cities such as New York and Washington where there are cultural venues that allow people to "just come in, hang out, use the café, and use the WIFI".

"It's maybe for people who might go out as a family or who don't do late nights ... that there's the kind of early evening offering that we probably could play a unique part in," she said.

Ms Heaney pointed to the success of Culture Night, telling TDs and Senators that she was not suggesting that museums be used for those staying out until "2am or 3am".

Sinn Féin Senator Fintan Warfield told the committee that he believed there was great scope to use cultural spaces for the night-time economy.

"I was in Collins Barracks for the Mother Block Party, I think that's a good example of how our cultural institutions can engage in the night-time economy", he said.

During her opening statement, Ms Heaney also spoke of her desire to bring more "rigour and discussion to the concept of the inclusive museum".

She referenced the Black Lives Matter movement, which she believed "highlighted that museums across the globe have a distance to travel".

A museum's progress on such matters shouldn't be judged by visitor numbers alone but also by other "key performance indicators", she said.

Senator Warfield asked about the work the museum has done to deal with objects that have a colonial past.

Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, said that a huge amount of research still needs to be done on the objects within their collections from a provenance perspective, particularly on their ethnographic collection.

She added that it's important to make people around world aware of what the National Museum of Ireland holds and why they hold it.

It is part of a larger decolonisation question and process for the museum, she said.