Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Speech at the 2022 Council of Europe Museum Prize Ceremony

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

(Half French, half English)

Mesdames et messieurs, chers collègues et amis,

Je suis très heureux d'être parmi vous ce soir, et d'avoir l’honneur de représenter l'Assemblée Parlementaire du Conseil de l’Europe, afin de décerner le Prix du Musée du Conseil de l’Europe, en partenariat avec le Forum européen du Musée « European Museum Forum ».

Je souhaiterais remercier tout d'abord nos hôtes, la ville de Strasbourg et sa Maire, Madame Jeanne Barseghian, représentée ce soir par Madame Anne Mistler. Merci pour votre hospitalité, votre accueil chaleureux et pour l'organisation de cette cérémonie dans ce magnifique bâtiment, le Palais Rohan, qui abrite trois musées.

Je voudrais souligner l'importance du Prix du Musée du Conseil de l'Europe qui est décerné chaque année depuis 1977. Au cours des 44 dernières années, les critères d'attribution du prix ont largement évolué. Aujourd'hui, compte tenu des défis politiques et sociétaux du 21e siècle, le Prix du Musée du Conseil de l'Europe est attribué à des musées qui défendent fermement les droits humains et la démocratie, qui encouragent la diversité et le dialogue afin de cultiver un sentiment d'identité, une mémoire collective et une compréhension mutuelle au sein de nombreuses communautés en Europe et entre elles.

This is an opportunity to thank the European Museum Forum (EMF), Ms Jette Sandahl the EMF Chairperson and its judging team for their longstanding partnership and remarkable ability to put the spotlight on European cultural institutions which not only fulfill the highest professional standards but also excel in their efforts to serve society and to promote democratic values.

I also wish to pay tribute to the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of our Parliamentary Assembly that takes the final decision to select the winner each year and I thank my dear colleague Senator Roberto Rampi for his dedication and enthusiasm as committee representative for the Council of Europe Museum Prize.

The important feature that the Parliamentary Assembly looks for, is that all candidates for the Council of Europe Museum Prize deliver a strong message connected to respect for human rights and democracy and that they have the capacity to broaden visitors’ knowledge and understanding of contemporary societal issues and to explore with them the ideas of democratic citizenship.

Nano Nagle Place in Cork, Ireland - winner of the 2022 Council of Europe Museum Prize – is a site-specific museum which celebrates the educational and religious work of Honora - or "Nano" – Nagle, who devoted her life to others, especially poor people, and founded a school for the Catholic poor in Cork in the 18th century, at a time when this was illegal. On the website of the museum, I read that Nano had opened 7 schools for poor children across Cork city, founded an almshouse for poor women and established also the Presentation Order, who continue her education and social inclusion work today.

The charity which runs the museum continues the order’s educational and spiritual work, through:

  • the Cork Migrant Centre, providing services for Asylum Seekers and Refugees with a special focus on the empowerment of those at risk of poverty, social exclusion, exploitation and discrimination;
  • and the Lantern, which runs Community Education and Development services, that bring the perennial fight for equality and social justice to the twenty-first century frame of mind and action.

At the Council of Europe, we believe that this is an exemplary place of caring based on need not on doctrine, providing long term sustainable cultural and social services, directly connected to the core museum story of innovative education and care of the poor and excluded.

Congratulations Ms Shane Clarke, you can be very proud of what you achieved!

Let me conclude that with this award, the winning museum plays an important role in promoting the core values in 46 member countries of the Council of Europe - the values that we cannot take for granted and that we need to keep defending continuously.