Quinnipiac closes Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum amid financial sufficiency goal

Chatwan Mongkol, News Editor

Following its temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Quinnipiac University-owned Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum will not reopen.

Associate Vice President for Public Relations John Morgan wrote in a statement to The Chronicle that the university is looking at a potential relocation of the museum.

Quinnipiac University is looking at a potential relocation of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, according to the university’s spokesperson. (Chatwan Mongkol)

“Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum remains closed and the university is in active conversations with potential partners with the goal of placing the collection on display at an organization that will increase access to national and international audiences,” Morgan wrote.

After Quinnipiac ended its 30-year-long sponsorship with New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2019, President July Olian announced a goal for the museum to be self-sufficient in terms of its finances by June of 2022.

Morgan did not greenlight The Chronicle’s request to interview the museum’s director.

According to the IRS 990 forms, the museum had been spending more than it earned in past years. The most recent form shows that the museum made $145,721 while it spent $356,873 in the 2019 fiscal year. 

In the same year Olian and the Board of Trustees established a goal for the museum’s financial self-sufficiency, its total revenue was $184,903 with $550,177 worth of expenses. A year before that, the museum spent $919,667 with a total income of $277,393.

The museum’s primary income was from grants, contributions and program revenue including ticket sales and its gift shop’s sales.

The biggest chunk of expenses in 2017-18 went to what the 990 forms label as “professional services.” It was $288,113 in 2017 and $191,427 in 2018. Additionally, $242,578 was used for “other services” in 2017. However, in 2019, the professional services-related expenses weren’t reported. 

Another part of the museum’s expenditures is its employee’s salaries, which totaled $200,000-$300,000 every year from 2015 until at least 2019. Numbers for the 2020 fiscal year are not available as of publication.

As The Chronicle surveyed 83 students in 2019, 56 reported being in favor of the closure while 27 students said they would be upset if the museum closed.

History professor Christine Kinealy who teaches Irish studies said she is sad like many people that the museum will not reopen at Quinnipiac.

As a director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, which doesn’t affiliate with the museum, Kinealy said she has not been involved in the discussions that led to the closure. 

Morgan noted in the statement that the institute remains open and that the university “continues its research program on the Great Hunger through the institute as well as the Great Hunger collection housed in the Lender Special Collection Room of the Arnold Bernhard Library on the Mount Carmel Campus.”

Update: The Chronicle updated the headline to better reflect the story.