Supporters of the Great Hunger Museum of Ireland in Quinnipiac host ‘unity’ Christmas carol event

HAMDEN – A group urging Quinnpiac University to reopen Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum will meet with residents for a ‘unity’ Christmas carol event on Saturday, according to an email.

‘Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’ campaign officials said in an email that supporters would ‘join other members of the public in a demonstration of unity at a traditional Irish Christmas carol event outside the museum At 3 p.m. on December 4. .

“Longtime favorites from both sides of the Atlantic will be presented to the delight of parents and children. After the Christmas carols, revelers can gather at the Side Street Bar and Grille for hot cider and snacks, ”officials said.

Quinnipiac University has announced that the museum will be closed permanently in August; it initially closed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

School officials said the institution had covered only a quarter of its operating expenses through income and fundraising over the previous three years.

Attorney Michael McCabe, representing the group, sent a letter to State Attorney General William Tong in August asking him to investigate the museum’s closure “because it involves the sale or disbursement” of the collection, which is owned by a non-profit organization and has been strengthened through donations from past donors.

“Quinnipiac agrees to preserve the story of the Great Hunger and find a solution for the continued exhibition of the museum’s collection, but the lack of support at its current location has created an unsustainable operation requiring millions of funds. academics to spend to keep the museum open; funds that might otherwise have been spent on college and student programs over the years, ”said John Morgan, associate vice president of public relations at Quinnipiac on Friday. have productive conversations with potential partners interested in exhibiting the museum’s collection, as well as with elected officials and arts and museum leaders, as we are committed to ensuring that the museum’s collection remains accessible to the public and does advance its original mission. “

The investigation was still ongoing on Friday, according to Elizabeth Benton, communications director for the Tong office.

In the email, supporters of the reopening effort said they had recently established a nonprofit, also titled “Save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum,” allowing them “to accept donations for help ensure that the museum’s closure is reversed or, at worst, saved and moved to a more user-friendly location.

The Norwalk-based nonprofit was formed in November, according to records from the Connecticut secretary of state.

Organization officials said that “donors or artists, many of whom have sold their works to the museum at greatly reduced prices due to the museum’s international reputation,” had not been informed by Quinnipiac University. of the future of the collection.

They said their campaign to reopen the institution had “gained momentum” since Tong’s investigation was first announced in August, noting that the matter had been covered by The New York Times.

The Great Hunger Museum of Ireland opened in 2012 under the direction of John Lahey, then president of the university, succeeded by Judy Olian in 2018.

The Irish Famine Museum and Study had strong financial support from the Marvin Lender brothers and the late Murray Lender, a member of the multigenerational philanthropic family who ran the H. Lender & Sons bagel business.

Lahey previously said the museum shared a history relevant to Irish Americans in the United States, many of whom live in Quinnipiac’s backyard in New York and Boston, and provided an international brand and identity to the ‘school. Its themes, the encounter of a people with sectarianism and hatred, are universal, he said.

As the university first considered the institution’s future in 2019, Lahey said he believed Quinnipiac could raise funds to keep the museum afloat.

He said its annual budget is quite small compared to that of the university – hundreds of thousands against hundreds of millions.

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