Inside Belfast's Ulster Museum

Photograph of Ulster Museum exterior
Photograph of Ulster Museum exterior | © Bazonka/WikiCommons
Olivia Catherine-Rooney

There’s no shortage of beauty in Northern Ireland. And the Ulster Museum is no exception. A hive of activity and education for all ages, this museum is not to be missed. The walk to the museum through Botanic Gardens begins any local’s or tourist’s magical cultural journey in Belfast’s heart. Ulster Museum’s variety of exhibitions promises something for all and can be the perfect location for a family day out, a romantic date, or some alone time.
While the art exhibitions at the Ulster Museum change after a number of months on display, each exhibition does highlight the cultural importance of this museum in Northern Ireland’s capital city. Recent exhibitions have included The BP Portrait Award 2015 and local Belfast artist, Gerard Dillon.An example of the international culture Ulster Museum has to offer Belfast, the BP exhibition consisted of 2,748 portraits from around the world, with the 2015 winner being Matan Ben-Cnann with his portrait Annabelle and Guy.

On display until 6 Nov 2016, the Gerard Dillon exhibition features local culture with portraits from Dillon linked to his birth in Belfast as well as time spent in southern Ireland, highlighting Belfast’s local culture as well as Ireland further afield. As well as these exhibitions, the museum also displays paintings from different cultures such as Italian and Dutch paintings, alongside other displays from sculptures to the art of the Troubles in the museum’s online collection. Hence, the art displayed in the Ulster Museum as well as digitally on their website give visitors a full and varied look at Belfast, greater northern and southern Ireland as well as global artists and life around the world.

Sculpture outside Ulster Museum, Belfast

The Ulster Museum also offers a variety of displays from science to history, making it an extremely informative visit for children and adults alike. One intriguing exhibition is that of the mummy Takabuti, the mistress of a high-standing Egyptian house, where not only is her mummified body on display but also a headpiece which has been made to envisage what she would have looked like when alive in ancient Egypt. Having this fascinating exhibition highlights Belfast’s cultural importance.

Local history is also explored in great detail, stretching back to 1500 and reaching 1968, allowing visitors to follow the chronology of Ulster’s birth. The Modern History Gallery journeys through the centuries from the Plantation of English and Scottish in Gaelic Ulster to the famine, the industrial revolution in Belfast and the social issues it brought, such as poor housing, right through to Home Rule and Partition as well as Belfast and World War Two. However, a highlight is the Remembering 1916 exhibition in this centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising, a failed rebellion in which hundreds were killed and injured in Dublin’s GPO and surrounding areas in the fight for Ireland’s freedom from British Rule. Such programs in the museum convey the history of Ireland’s key dates and reinforce their cultural significance, allowing for new generations as well as tourists to learn about the rich past Belfast and beyond have had in creating both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, building up to the current day.

Takabuti Egyptian Mummy Belfast Museum

As well as art and history, the Ulster Museum also boasts an amazing collection of all things science – from fossils and evolution to the solar system, sea life, elements and everything in between that makes up the world. Earth’s Treasures allows the public to learn about different minerals and the beauty they inhabit, creating a dazzling display. There are also some interactive features which will test what you have learned from the information given, a fun and educational experience for children and big kids too. Animal life is explored from mammals and birds as well as insects of all sizes, creating a riveting and educational display. Also, The Sea Around Us exhibit allows for views of the shore as well as beneath the sea, providing a magical exploration of under the ocean. With Belfast being a short distance from Northern Ireland’s coast, this exhibition allows for an exciting glimpse into Northern Ireland’s natural landscape, highlighting the cultural importance and natural beauty of Belfast and the surrounding areas.

New Triceratops exhibit on re-opening, 22 October 2009

Ultimately, the Ulster Museum has something for everyone with a variety of displays in all areas, from art and science to history. The educational benefit mirrors the enjoyment had whilst taking in culture in Belfast’s most beautiful museum.

Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast, County Antrim, UK, +44 28 9044 0000

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