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Conference: A national health service?

Exploring how museums can improve our wellbeing

Conference flyer

Join us for a special one-day conference marking the Museum's 20 year anniversary at Collins Barracks, exploring the social impact of museums and the role that they can play in the community.

Admission free. Contact our Bookings Office to book your place. Event will include Irish Sign Language Intepreters.

Please note programme may be subject to change.

Saturday 4th November 2017



Registration and Coffee


Welcome and Introduction

Lorraine Comer, Head of Education, National Museum of Ireland


Keynote address: Museums as spaces for wellbeing?

Laura Bedford, Project Coordinator for the National Alliance for Museums, Health & Wellbeing, UK 


Roundtable Discussion chaired by Professor Frances Ruane, The Economic and Social Research Institute

Roundtable includes participants, educators, facilitators from projects and programmes in a Museum or Gallery context. A number of short presentations will be followed by a panel discussion, and audience Q&A.

Peggy Bradley, Project participant, partnership projects with NMI and Larkin Community College.

Sindy Joyce, Mincéir (Irish Traveller), human rights activist and PhD student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Limerick.

Kany Kazadi, project participant in the Migrant Women project at National Museum of Ireland – Country Life.

Esme Lewis, is a project participant, Bealtaine and Samhain projects at the NMI and a participant of Dublin’s Culture Connects projects.

Rosa Meehan, curator, National Museum of Ireland – Country Life currently curating the Traveller Pride exhibition on Traveller culture to open in 2018 at the Museum.

Máire O’Higgins, Deputy Principal, Larkin Community College and partner in projects with NMI from 2010 – 2015.

JP Swaine, founder, ‘First Fortnight’ Festival.

Victoria Uí Bhraoin, project participant, Dublin’s Culture Connects Press Play and Culture Club.

There will be a short coffee break at 11.20am.


Lunch, and opportunities to join guided tours, engage in object handling or listen to a musical performance:

  • ‘Na Píobairí Uilleann’ performance in the Lecture Theatre 
  • Short guided tours from 1.15 – 1.45pm
  • ‘Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising’ with Declan Brady
  • ‘Recovered Voices: Stories of the Irish at War 1914 – 15’ with Johanna St John
  • ‘Eileen Gray’ with Lisa Flanagan
  • Drop in ‘Hands on History’ session with Museum handling objects in the Museum’s reception area.



Helen Beaumont, Education & Outreach Officer, National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History


Aesthetic deprivation and health

Professor Desmond O’Neill, Professor of Medical Gerontology, Trinity College Dublin and consultant geriatrician, Tallaght Hospital, and author and broadcaster. 


The Power of Creative Agency: A sustained engagement with young asylum seekers, refugees and migrants at the Glucksman

Tadhg Crowley, Curator of Education, Glucksman Gallery, University College Cork


We need to root before we rise

Joe Caslin, Street Artist, illustrator and art educator


Q&A chaired by Gina O’Kelly, Director of Operations, Irish Museums Association


Closing remarks: Museums in a troubled world

Sharon Heal, Director of The Museums Association, UK


Conference close

For further enquiries and bookings email bookings@museum.ie

Speakers' Biographies

Laura Bedford has worked in the museum sector for more than 15 years. Currently she is the Project Coordinator for the UK’s National Alliance for Museums, Health & Wellbeing. Her role involves managing the Alliance, delivering and developing training provision, creating online resources and sharing best practice to support and advocate for health and wellbeing work in the museum sector. Her previous role as Access and Public Programmes Manager at the Geffrye Museum of the Home, London, UK included managing programmes for older people, community groups, deaf and disabled adults, families and ESOL learners. Through this work she witnessed first-hand how museums could contribute towards people’s health and wellbeing. 


Joe Caslin is a street artist, illustrator and art teacher. He completed an MFA in illustration receiving a distinction at the Edinburgh College of Art - University of Edinburgh in 2012 and has previously read at National College of Art and Design, Limerick School of Art and Design and National University of Ireland, Galway. Caslin has worked as a secondary school art teacher for the past ten years.
He was the recipient of the Association of Illustration award for New Talent in Public Realm Illustration 2013 and is represented in collections both nationally and internationally.
Rather than leaving current societal needs to government the aim of his current project entitled, ‘Our Nation’s Sons’ he aims to spread a solution by persuading entire communities to address the very real problem of young male apathy and mental wellbeing. Over the past three years he has initiated a pioneering new way of focusing Ireland’s urgent need for action to support this group through the installation of large-scale portraits of young males.
Caslin is an ambassador for the suicide and self harm crisis charity Pieta House and represented Culture Night 2015 as a chosen Cultural Ambassador. In 2016 he received a ‘Next Generation Bursary’ from the Art Council of Ireland alongside funding from the Trinity College Creative Challenge. His art practice continues its focus primarily on social advocacy, activation and provocation with the inception of a number of new and innovative projects.
Tadhg Crowley is the Curator of Education at the Glucksman in University College Cork. The Glucksman presents a wide-ranging programme of temporary exhibitions accompanied by an extensive education programme to engage visitors of diverse interests and backgrounds.
A graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design Tadhg’s role at the Glucksman is to help foster an appreciation of the visual arts among the wider public.
In early 2015 Tadhg devised and delivered the first Visual Art module on the Certificate in Contemporary Living Course at UCC. Tadhg has expanded the Glucksman schools programme over the past 3 years and in 2016 over 2000 students attended workshops and tours at the gallery. Tadhg introduced the Glucksman Teachers programme in 2014 and it now includes seasonal Art Teachers Masterclasses, Preview Evenings and Summer Courses.
Tadhg has coordinated the Glucksman’s creative work with young asylum seekers, refugees and migrants since 2015. These engagements at the museum have been realised through a variety of projects including – Our Place (2015/16); Navigating the Urban Landscape (2016/17); The Big Picture (2017); A Greener, Brighter Future (2017) and Arriving Into View (2017).
Recently, Tadhg has presented at the IMA Annual Education and Outreach Forum (2015) and (2017); Arts in Education Portal National Day (2016); Scenario Conference UCC (2017); Creativity and Change Roadshow CIT (2017); Arts Participation among Young Asylum Seekers Symposium at Mary I (2017). He lectures on the MA: Art and Process at Crawford College of Art & Design; the Futures PhD module UCC; and was guest lecturer on the M.Ed at UCC (2017); UCC BIS 1st year course (2016).
Tadhg is currently a research student in UCC School of Education where his focus is on Primary Schools, creativity and the role of the museum.
Sharon Heal is the director of the UK's Museums Association, a professional membership organisation that campaigns to promote the value of museums to society. 
She regularly comments on museums and cultural policy in the UK; speaks at conferences and events in the UK and internationally; and has published extensively including contributing a chapter to Museums and Public Value (Carol A Scott, Ashgate).
She is a board member of Vocaleyes a UK-wide charity that provides opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to experience and enjoy arts and heritage and a member of the Museum Slaskie Council.
Sharon’s background is in journalism, event creation and policy development. She has lectured in journalism, the history of museums and museum ethics and has judged prizes and awards including the Clore Award for Museum Learning.

Gina O’Kelly joined the Irish Museums Association (IMA) in 2010 and is responsible for the association’s work in support of the museum sector, along with partnership building and advising on strategic direction. A Licentiate (BA+MA) in Fine Arts from the University of Granada, Spain, Gina has held senior development, community and curatorial roles at non-profit cultural organisations and commercial. During her time at the helm of the IMA, she has devised and delivered a programme of activities that aims to provide continued professional development for museum staff and underline the value and social impact of museums. Highlights from the past 12 months have been delivering the Museum Survey of Ireland 2016, membership of EGMUS and the MA UK’s conference advisory group for Belfast 2018, and establishing a Brexit task force for the museum sector with Ulster University.

Desmond (Des) O'Neill is a Professor of Medical Gerontology in Trinity College Dublin and a consultant geriatrician in Tallaght Hospital. His research interests centre on ageing and the neurosciences with a particular emphasis on the humanities, and he has authored over 300 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters. He was worked collaboratively with a wide range of disciplines, including artists, scholars in the humanities, ethicists, architects and musicians, and is passionately interested in developing the process of interdisciplinary research on the themes of ageing and memory.

As Chair of the National Centre for Arts and Health, he has worked with a number of national cultural agencies and institutions to develop the concepts of arts, ageing and health. He helped develop the first course for artists in health care in Ireland, has broadcast on Lyric FM, and is an active contributor to the British Medical Journal Blogs and national media on matters relating to ageing and the humanities. 
His book, Ageing and Caring, was published by Orpen Press in November 2013. He was awarded the All-Ireland Inspirational Life Award in 2010 for advancing the cause of older people, and the Joseph T Freeman Award by the Gerontological Society of America in 2014. 

Frances Ruane is an Irish academic economist and Research Affiliate at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). She previously served as Director of the ESRI from 2006 to 2015. She is an Honorary Professor of Economics at Trinity College, Dublin.