Supporters protest the closure of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

Protestors in the Connecticut community gathered together recently to rally against the attempted closure of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, a historic building located at Quinnipiac University.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, owned by the Quinnipiac University, was closed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the university’s board of trustees took the decision in August not to reopen the institution at all.

Over the weekend, members of the local community gathered together outside the museum to protest the proposed closure.

An insight into the Great Famine – an important piece of Irish history

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum tells the story of the Irish famine.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum proudly houses the most extensive collection of art related to the Irish famine in the world.

The museum was first opened in 2012. It aims to educate audiences of all ages about the many causes of Ireland’s Great Hunger.

It takes you through the political, social, and economic issues that created a perfect storm of tragic circumstances for the Irish nation and its people as a whole.

The museum preserves, hosts, and studies a wide variety of art, artefacts, and literature directly related to Ireland’s Great Hunger that occurred from 1845 to 1852.

A coalition formed to prevent the closure – a peaceful protest

Protesters gather outside Ireland's Great Hunger Museum.
Credit: Facebook / Bonnie Weir via Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

Since the news of the closure came to light, a coalition called the ‘Committee to Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’ formed, where Irish-American groups came together with an aim to reverse the decision made by the board of trustees.

In protest, the campaigners staged an event over the weekend, which they claimed was to “salute the museum”.

Protestors gathered at the front of the museum, where they performed live music and street art. There were even family activities as part of a vocal demonstration against the attempted closure.    

The ‘Committee to Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’ provided a statement to RTÉ. It read, “This salute to the museum is intended to call together a peaceful coalition of voices to save the museum and its collection”.

Sale of the museum’s collection? – a non-profit institution

Ireland's Great Hunger Museum in Connecticut.
Credit: Facebook / @IrelandsGreatHungerMuseum

Of course, the main goal of the committee is to prevent the closure of the museum altogether.

Still, they have disclosed that, failing that, they want to make sure that the museum’s vast collection will stay intact. They have confirmed they will not sell the collection for any profit or monetary gain.

Thanks to the campaigners’ efforts, Attorney General of the State of Connecticut opened an inquiry into the museum’s possible closure.

Campaigners raised the issue that the closure could result in the potential sale of the museum’s collection, despite it being a non-profit institution.

Reassurance from Quinnipiac University – they will not sell the collection

Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

Quinnipiac University commented regarding the rumours of the possible sale of the collection at Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum.

They stated that in the event of its closure, they have no intention of selling.

Rather, they are currently focusing their efforts on finding a new suitable location for the artworks to call home.

It remains to be seen whether the museum will close. And, if it does, what the exact final location will be for its great collection.