Where to See Art in and Around Belfast, Northern Ireland

Not only is Belfast home to some great galleries, it also has some beautiful architecture
Not only is Belfast home to some great galleries, it also has some beautiful architecture | © Robert Malone / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Callum Davies
5 August 2020

Like any city with a rich cultural heritage, Belfast is covered with vibrant street art. From the Cathedral Quarter to the MAC, here are the best places to see art in the capital of Northern Ireland.

Cathedral Quarter

Architectural Landmark
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Commercial Court, Cathedral Quarter, Belfast, Northern Ireland
© Michele Oenbrink / Alamy Stock Photo

The Cathedral Quarter is the epicentre of street art in Belfast. It has played host to several festivals throughout the years. Both local and visiting artists have graced the area with some incredible murals. Highlights include MTO’s Son of Protagoras and Conor Harrington’s The Duel of Belfast, Dance by Candlelight. You can reach the Cathedral Quarter from the centre of Belfast in 10 minutes on foot.

Queen Street Studios

Art Gallery
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Queen Street Studios (QSS) has been a mainstay in the Belfast art world since 1984. It provides studio space to up-and-coming artists around the city, and visitors can freely explore, watching the artists both create and showcase their work. QSS is located right in the centre of the city and regularly hosts events and exhibitions. Head to the website to find out what’s on.

The Salmon of Knowledge

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark
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The Salmon of Knowledge ceramic fish sculpture in Belfast.
© Loop Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

There are various sculptures around the city, but The Salmon of Knowledge (also known as The Big Fish) has become one of its most famous. Designed by John Kindness, the 10m (33ft) fish is made of ceramic tiles with passages about the history of Belfast written on them. You can find the sculpture on Donegall Quay, a 10-minute walk from the centre.

Belfast Exposed

Art Gallery
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Another grassroots establishment, Belfast Exposed is the most well-known photography gallery in the city, complete with two exhibition spaces, a bookshop and an archive of more than 500,000 images. All of this sits under one roof in the Cathedral Quarter. The photography on display is often political and challenging in nature, and there are always new exhibits.

The MAC

Building
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The MAC Arts Venue, Belfast
© scenicireland.com / Christopher Hill Photographic / Alamy Stock Photo
Sometimes, it can be easy to forget that you’re surrounded by art – that is, architecture. The Metropolitan Art Centre (MAC) is an architectural gem, as well as a great gallery, with an ever-changing selection of art. With its location in the middle of the Cathedral Quarter and rotating exhibits, it is easy to understand why Belfast visitors continue to return to the MAC.

Gormleys Fine Art

Art Gallery
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For those after something a little bit more classic, Gormleys Fine Art is one of the leading galleries in Belfast and the UK. It’s one of two galleries, the other is in Dublin. It displays paintings, sculptures and other forms of visual art. It takes around 40 minutes to walk there from the city centre or you can take a train to Adelaide station.
These recommendations were updated on August 5, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.