Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General - Press Release VFM examination report on The National Museum at Collins Barracks

Press Release issued on 23 January 1997

VFM examination report on The National Museum at Collins Barracks

The Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr John Purcell, has carried out an examination of the management of the project to provide a new National Museum facility at Collins Barracks, Dublin.


Collins Barracks has served continuously as a military installation since its foundation in 1701. Many of the buildings in the Barracks are listed for preservation or protection but, over time, had fallen into disrepair. A decision was taken in 1988 to close the Barracks and to put it up for sale. When offers to purchase fell short of the valuation, an alternative use was sought for the Barracks.

The Government decided in September 1993 to provide extra accommodation for the National Museum at Collins Barracks. It had long been recognised that the Museum's existing accommodation was inadequate.

The Project

The Collins Barracks project involves

  • the construction of new buildings
  • the renovation, repair and adaptation of existing buildings
  • exhibition design and fitting out of the buildings
  • conservation and documentation of artefacts.

A total of ?28 million has been committed to the project for the construction and renovation elements.


The project proceeded without the adoption of a long-term strategic plan covering all the essential elements of the project. Targets were set for a first phase of building work but not for other project elements like exhibition design, conservation and documentation of artefacts and recruitment and training of staff. No overall budget has been set.

Normal appraisal procedures laid down by the Department of Finance for a capital project of this kind and scale were not applied.

Although there has been a variety of groups overseeing the project during the development period, the project has not had the type of project management structure which is appropriate for an undertaking of this scale and complexity.

Construction and renovation work to date has been completed within reasonable cost and time targets.

The conversion of the buildings to museum usage has been judged by an expert to have been very successful.

Disagreement between the interested parties on an overall interpretation for the new exhibition space led to considerable delay in completing the first phase of development of the new museum facility.

Although it was originally planned to open some of the exhibition space to the public by May 1995, latest indications are that the opening date will be in the second half of 1997.

The estimated capital cost of the first phase of the new museum facility is ?15 million. This includes expenditure on exhibition design and fitting out, estimated to cost around ?2 million.

It was originally intended that the second phase of building work would be completed by the end of 1999. However, given the current status of planning, the remaining building and renovation work will take up to five years to complete. Thereafter, further time will be required to complete the installation of an exhibition. The likely cost of the second phase of development is not known.

For further information about the report contents, please contact:

Seamus McCarthy

Tel: +353 1 679 3122

Fax: +353 1 679 3288


Publication Details

VFM Report Number 11: The National Museum at Collins Barracks

ISBN 0-7076-3737-6

Price ?5

Government Publications Sales Office

Sun Alliance House

Molesworth Street

Dublin 2

Tel: +353 1 661 3111

Fax: +353 1 475 2760

The contents of this page were last updated on 26/09/03