Campaigners have staged an event in the US state of Connecticut opposing the closure of a museum which houses the world's largest collection of art related to the Irish famine.
Ireland's Great Hunger Museum, which is owned by Quinnipiac University, was closed last year due to Covid-19 but it was decided not to reopen the institution following a unanimous vote of the university’s board of trustees.
In 2019, Quinnipiac said it was reassessing funding for the museum due to cost-cutting plans and gave the facility until June 2020 to become self-sufficient.
A coalition of Irish American groups has formed the 'Committee to Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum' and gathered in front of the museum yesterday in Hamden, Connecticut to voice opposition to the closure.
"This salute to the museum is intended to call together a peaceful coalition of voices to save the museum and its collection," according to a statement from the committee.
The group says it is seeking to reverse the university's decision and reopen the museum.
"Should that effort fail, the committee seeks to ensure that the collection remains intact and whole, and that it is not broken up and sold for profit by Quinnipiac," according to the statement.
The Attorney General of the US state of Connecticut has opened an inquiry into the closure of the museum after campaigners raised concerns that it may result in the sale or disbursement of the museum's collection, the property of a non-profit institution.
Quinnipiac University says it does not plan to sell the museum's collection and that efforts are under way to find a new location for the artworks.
"The university is in active conversations with potential partners who are interested in displaying Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’s collection; Quinnipiac is not selling any of the museum’s collection," a spokesperson said.
"We are being responsive to the Attorney General’s Office and will provide the necessary information requested about Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, including relevant policies about gifts, any donations that were received, and the financial operations of the museum," the spokesperson added.
In 2018, artworks from the museum were transported to Ireland for an exhibition entitled "Coming Home" which toured Dublin, Cork and Derry.