LIMERICK City Council will save €44,000 a year on rent if councillors approve a proposal to relocate the City Museum to the derelict Opera Centre site on a temporary basis.
Shannon Development has been its landlord since 1998 but the redevelopment of Castle Lane and King John’s Castle means the museum - and its collection of over 50,000 items - is looking for a new home.
Director of service Pat Dowling told members of the Council’s cultural committee the plan was to relocate the museum, as well as the city archives, to the five-storey former AIB bank building on the corner of Ellen Street and Patrick Street. This forms part of the Opera Centre site purchased by the Council from NAMA for €12.5 million.
“It would immediately remove our costs on an annual basis in renting the property,” Mr Dowling said.
Dating from 1990, the building is one of the few elements of the Opera Centre site that doesn’t require extensive refurbishment and Mr Dowling said that at 10,000 square feet, it would provide “significant additional space” for the collection.
Cllr Michael Hourigan was happy to “finally be discussing a firm proposal” and said the plans would help “take the face of dereliction away from Patrick Street”.
Cllr Kathleen Leddin said she was in favour of a temporary move but the Council should not “close our minds” to returning at least some of the collection to the Nicholas Street area in future. “We have had temporary moves here in the past which turned out to be permanent,” she said.
Cllr Tom Shortt said that whatever the long-term solution, the museum would be on Patrick Street for a long time if the proposal was approved. This would include the centenary of the First World War, the Easter Rising and the War of Independence and the museum should start planning now to put on “innovative exhibitions around these dates that will touch the popular imagination”.
The cafe at the redeveloped City Gallery of Art has proved a success and there was a lesson to learned from that.
“If you want to attract visitors, the smell of coffee can do that every bit as much as the quality of your exhibitions. I’m not looking for a Michelin-starred restaurant but modern visitor facilities and creature comforts,” said Cllr Shortt. The proposal to temporarily relocate the museum will now go before a full meeting of the Council.