(i) The National Cultural Institutions Act sets the framework within which the Museum must operate.
(ii) The National Monuments Acts (1930 - 1994) have considerable impact on the work of the Museum. They establish the role of the Director of the National Museum of Ireland in asserting the State’s ownership of archaeological objects which are found and which have no known owner. They also provide for the Museum’s role as a regulatory body in Irish archaeology. The Director has a consultative role with the Department of Environment in the licensing of archaeological excavation. The Department of Environment also consults the Museum in relation to consents for the use of detection devices. The Museum is also responsible for processing of licences for export and alteration of archaeological objects. The Museum is also involved with the Department of Environment in the formulation of Codes of Practice with major developers such as the National Roads Authority, Bord Gáis and the Port Authorities, and in the drafting and revision of heritage legislation.
(iii) There is a statutory role for the Director under the Merchant Shipping (Salvage and Wreck) Act 1993 in relation to historic wrecks and archaeological objects from the sea. There is also an implicit role for the Museum with the Department of Environment in relation to a number of development acts such as the Gas Act 1976, Foreshore Amendment Act 1992, Harbours Act 1996, Dumping at Sea Act 1996, and the Turf Development Act 1998. The Museum also advises the Department of Environment in relation to applications for licences to dive on underwater sites with remains more than 100 years old, and on the placing and operation of Underwater Heritage Orders.
(iv) The Heritage Act 1995 establishes the Heritage Council and defines various aspects of heritage. The Museum, under the National Cultural Institutions Act 1997, is obliged to assist the Council with advice on heritage matters. Museum staff serve on a number of the Council's committees. The latter Act also gives the Council a role in resolution of disputes involving repositories for archaeological objects, and allows the Minister to devolve a role to the Council in relation to heritage objects.
(v) Copyright law affects the generation of revenue from photographic images and publications in new media. This represents an opportunity for realising the potential of the Museum's image archives. This has been updated in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000.
(vi) The Freedom of Information Act 1997, the Data Protection Act 1988 and state directives have placed the role of the Museum as an information manager and provider on a new footing.