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Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac is closing. Now the state is investigating what's happening to its exhibits

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, located in Hamden, Connecticut as part of Quinnipiac University, announced it would close in 2021. The museum focused on the Irish Great Hunger of 1845–1852.
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Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, located in Hamden, Connecticut as part of Quinnipiac University, announced it would close in 2021. The museum focused on the Irish Great Hunger of 1845–1852.

Quinnipiac University announced in August that Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, housed on its campus, is closing permanently after a near two-year hiatus during the pandemic. On top of community members being concerned about the museum’s collection, a state investigation began this week.

Community members sent a letter to the Connecticut Attorney General William Tong expressing suspicion that the museum’s collections would be sold off. Tong’s office confirmed that an open inquiry was underway, but declined further comment.

John Morgan, a university spokesman, said the administration has no intention of selling the artifacts.

“[Quinnipiac is] committed to finding a solution for the display of the collection that will ensure it remains publicly accessible, advances the museum’s original mission and preserves the story of the Great Hunger,” Morgan said.

Community members said they aren’t convinced. Adrian Flannelly, a supporter of the museum since its inception in 2012, said he doesn’t believe the university is telling the full story of the collection’s future in the two months since announcing the museum’s closure.

“In Ireland, this would be referred to as closing the gate before the horse is gone,” he said.

Flannelly said he doesn’t think the museum should have closed before the creation of a plan for the collection.

“We’d like them to fill us in on whatever [options] they have,” he said, “not just blanket statements to make them look better.”

A Facebook group, Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum has arisen in response to the museum's closure. Some members of the group, including Flannelly and over 1,400 other supporters, will be gathering outside the building in Hamden on Saturday, October 30 at 1 p.m. for a community salute and celebration of the museum, which is set to include live music, dancing, and street art.

Eda was a former intern with WSHU Public Radio.