The Ulster Museum


As a regular visitor to the Ulster Museum over the last 10 years and knowing of their redevelopment plans for quite some time, I was expectantly excited to get a sneak preview of the museum during the final stages of the redevelopment project.

And I wasn’t to be disappointed; right from the entrance the museum gives an impression of lightness and space that simply didn’t exist in the old building.

Gone is the brutalist 1970s entrance area with it’s low slung grey concrete that was oppressively dark and cloying, in it’s place, a bright, airy and welcoming space and regular visitors to the museum will surely be delighted with the transformation.

The creation of a feature central atrium to a height of 23 metres transforms the museum entrance and helps move it firmly in to the 21st century.

Innovative glass and steel walkways at varying heights in the new atrium completely open up access to the museum’s galleries on different levels and will transform the visitor flow through the History, Art and Science galleries, it even extends out from the newly created restaurant to the beautiful Botanic Gardens that surround the Ulster Museum.

As an avid fan of the museum’s Armada collection, I’m delighted to see the exhibition presented to the visitor in a manner that finally does justice to this superb collection of gold and precious artefacts that was recovered from the wreck of The Girona which sank off the coast of Northern Ireland in 1588 following the defeat of The Spanish Armada.

Another particular favourite of mine (and many local residents) is the museums famous old lady, Takabuti. This fascinating Egyptian Mummy who dates from the 7th century is in fabulous shape and has enthralled visitors to the museum over the years. The poor girl has spent the last two and a half years in solitary confinement in specially conditioned storage and she has now resumed her place as the star of the show in the museums History galleries. Abundant new information will help the visitor explore life and death amongst ancient Egypt as well as learning more about the mummification process.

Four new learning zones have been incorporated within the redevelopment along with a new Art Discovery Gallery and all should be well received when the museum finally reopens.
Taking half an hour out of my flying visit, I tracked down Roy Service, the NMNI’s Project Sponsor to get his take on the project as it nears completion. Suffice to say, he’s a very happy man and as many a weary museum professional who immerse themselves in major redevelopments in their museum will sympathise with, he’s looking forward to the end of it all and a well-earned rest.

Given that the fit out and case dressing was still in it’s final stages, I didn’t manage to access all areas, but when it opens, I strongly recommend you make the effort yourself.

Jim Stewart
Managing Director

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