Ulster Museum exterior, 2013
|Location||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
The Ulster Museum, located in the Botanic Gardens in Belfast, has around 8,000 square metres of public display space, featuring material from the collections of fine art and applied art, archaeology, ethnography, treasures from the Spanish Armada, local history, numismatics, industrial archaeology, botany, zoology and geology. It is the largest museum in Northern Ireland, and one of the components of National Museums Northern Ireland.
- 1 History
- 2 Collections
- 3 Controversy at the 132nd Royal Ulster Academy exhibition
- 4 Rail access
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The Ulster Museum was founded as the Belfast Natural History Society in 1821 and began exhibiting in 1833. It has included an art gallery since 1890. Originally called the Belfast Municipal Museum and Art Gallery, in 1929, it moved to its present location in Stranmillis. The new building was designed by James Cumming Wynne.
In 1962, courtesy of the Museum Act (Northern Ireland) 1961, it was renamed as the Ulster Museum and was formally recognised as a national museum. A major extension constructed by McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd to designs by Francis Pym who won the 1964 competition was opened in 1972 and Pym's only completed work. It was published in several magazines and was until alteration the most important example of Brutalism in Northern Ireland. It was praised by David Evans for the "almost barbaric power of its great cubic projections and cantilevers brooding over the conifers of the botanic gardens like a mastodon".
In 1998, the Ulster Museum, which includes Armagh County Museum, merged with the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and the Ulster-American Folk Park to form the National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland.
In July 2005, a £17m refurbishment of the museum was announced, with grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL, usually pronounced as 'Dee-Kal'). In October 2006 the museum closed its doors until 2009, to allow for the work. Illustrations of historic interest of interiors before alterations will be found as nos 183 and 237 in Larmour, P. 1987. The redevelopment drew criticism from many significant figures in the architectural community and the Twentieth Century Society, especially for changes to the Brutalist character and dismantling of the spiral sequence of rooms in the Pym extension.
The museum reopened in October 2009, eighty years to the day since its original opening. Within a month over 100,000 people had visited the museum. The reopening saw the introduction of Monday closure, which has received criticism from the public and in the press. All NMNI sites are to close on Mondays. This decision is being reviewed by DCAL.
The museum has galleries covering the history of Northern Ireland from the earliest times to the very recent past, collections of art, mostly modern or ethnographic, and also holds exhibitions.
The scientific collections of the Ulster Museum contain important collections of Irish birds, mammals, insects, molluscs, marine invertebrates, flowering plants, algae and lichens, as well as an archive of books and manuscripts relating to Irish natural history. The museum also maintains a natural history website named Habitas. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s it had a permanent exhibition on dinosaurs which has since been scaled back considerably. There is also a collection of rocks, minerals and fossils.
The museum contains significant finds from Northern Ireland, although in earlier periods these were often sent to the British Museum or later Dublin, as with the Broighter Hoard, now in the National Museum of Ireland. Objects in the museum include the Malone Hoard of 19 polished Neolithic axe heads, the Moss-side Hoard of Mesolithic stone tools, the important Downpatrick Hoard of Bronze Age gold jewellery, part of the Late Roman Coleraine Hoard, the Viking Shanmullagh Hoard, and the medieval coins in the Armagh City Hoard and Armagh Castle Street Hoard.
There are other significant objects of the Bronze Age gold jewellery for which Ireland is notable, including four of the 100-odd surviving gold lunulae, and some important early Celtic art, including a decorated bronze shield found in the River Shannon, and the Bann Disk, bronze with triskele decoration.
The Moss-side Hoard of Mesolithic stone tools
Gold lunula from Ballybay
Bronze Age gold ribbon torcs, from near Ballyrashane, Co. Londonderry
Bann Disk, bronze with triskele decoration
Decorated bronze shield, found in the River Shannon at Barrybeg, County Roscommon
- Joseph Whitaker early 20th century, mounted birds from Sicily.
- William Thompson mid-19th-century author of Natural History of Ireland, Mollusca, birds, algae.
- Robert Templeton (Belfast, Colombo) mid-19th-century insects from Ceylon.
- George Crawford Hyndman mollusca and Indian birds.
- William Monad Crawford early 20th-century butterflies from Burma.
- Canon William Frederick Johnson early 20th-century, Coleoptera.
- Charles Langham early 20th century, Irish insects European butterflies.
- H.M Peebles Himalayan snow butterflies (Parnassiinae)
- Robert Welch early 20th-century Mollusca.
- Herbert T Malcolmson early 20th-century James Sheals bird mounts (Ireland).
- Thomas Workman late 19th-century Lepidoptera
- Paul Wilcox (1943- ) butterflies of Malaya.
- Paul Smart (1941- ) tropical butterflies
- Raymond Haynes Irish butterflies and moths
- James P. Brock Ichneumonidae
- Shell collections, nudibranchs and sea sponges
- J.R.Stoffel types of Agrias butterflies
Important individual specimens
- Holotype of the emperor penguin collected by Captain Crozier of Banbridge
- Champion Patrick of Ifold - Irish Wolfhound
- Dwarf elephant skeletons from Sicily.
- The Egyptian mummified body of Takabuti.
- Mummy case of Tjesmutperet.
- Slender-billed curlew
- Rothschild's, Queen Alexandra's and other birdwing butterflies.
- Giant clam - given to the Belfast Natural History Society by Francis Walker
- Lammergeier mount by James Sheals
- Gervais' beaked whale (Mesoplodon europaeus)
- Japanese spider crab
- Bonaparte's gull collected by William Thompson - the first European specimen.
- Giant squid model
- Bald eagle juvenile from near Garrison, County Fermanagh on 11 January 1973. First European record.
- Passenger pigeon
- Irish elk
- Yellow-billed cuckoo (Irish specimen)
- Conus gloriamaris
The Zoology Department also maintains collections of wildlife art. Works by Peter Scott, Joseph Wolf, Eric Ennion, John Gerrard Keulemans, Roger Tory Peterson, Charles Tunnicliffe, Robert Gillmor and Archibald Thorburn are included. Illustrated works held by the Zoology Department include British Entomology - being illustrations and descriptions of the genera of insects found in Great Britain and Ireland — a classic work of entomology by John Curtis and Niccolò Gualtieri's Index Testarum Conchyliorum, quae adservantur in Museo Nicolai Gualtieri 1742.
The herbarium (BEL)
The herbarium in the Ulster Museum (BEL), is based on specimens from Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society (founded in 1821); the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club (founded in 1863); the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery (formed 1905) and the herbarium (BFT) of the Botany Department of The Queen's University, Belfast acquired in 1968. In total the number of specimens is more than 100,000. Although specimens from Northern Ireland are well represented, specimens from elsewhere in the world have been acquired by donation, exchange and purchase. All branches of the world's flora are represented: algae, lichens, fungi, mosses and pteridophytes (ferns), conifers and angiosperms. Little information about the Irish flora before 1830 is available, the oldest specimen in the Ulster Museum is an alga: Batrachospermum moniliforme (BEL: F41) collected in 1798 by John Templeton, other specimens of Batrachospermum, originally incorrectly identified as Thorea ramoissima were collected by John Templeton in 1815 from a "boghole" in Co. Donegal (BEL:F42 - F47). It was originally published by Harvey in 1841.
List of some of the collectors
- S.A.Bennett (1843–1929)
- Corrie Denew Chase (1878–1965)  (vascular plants and algae) — his herbarium of about 4,000 sheets was passed to Methodist College Belfast who passed it to the Ulster Museum in 1970.
- John Cocs (1787–1861) (algae)
- Thomas Huge Correl (1859–1883) (vascular plans).
- A. Fenton (A.F-G.Fenton) (lichens)
- M.Foslie (algae)
- Paul Hackney (1945 — ) (vascular plants and mosses)
- William Henry Harvey (1811–1866) (algae).
- George Crawford Hyndman (1796–1867) (algae).
- Frederick Hugh Woodhams Kerr (1885–1958) (vascular plants)
- Mary Patriria Happer Kertland (1901–1991) (vascular plants)
- William McCalla (c. 1814–1849) (algae).
- Osborne Morton (b. 1945) (lichens and algae)
- Robert Lloyd Praeger (1865–1953) (vascular plants)
- Arthur Wilson Stelfox (1883–1972) (vascular plants)
- Samuel Alexander Stewart (1826–1910) (vascular plants)
- John Templeton (Botanist) John Templeton (1766 — 1825) (algae).
- William Thompson (1805 — 1852) (algae).
- Sylvanus Wear (1858–1920) (vascular plants and algae)
- Coslett Herbert Waddell (1858–1919) (vascular plants, bryophytes and algae).
- (See also List of years in art#1960s)
The collection contains works by:
- Jean Dubuffet
- Morris Louis
- Anthony Caro
- Karel Appel
- Francis Bacon
- Joseph Beuys
- Eduardo Paolozzi
- Jean-Robert Ipoustéguy
Past art exhibitions
- Chola art.
- Bronze statues from the Chola Dynasty.
- Samurai armour.
- Solomon Islands war canoe. (Similar boat).
Controversy at the 132nd Royal Ulster Academy exhibition
In 2013 at the 132nd Royal Ulster Academy exhibition at the Ulster Museum "The Kiss" by artist Paul Walls was not displayed following discussions between the museum and the academy. It was decided as the subject matter, two women kissing, was inappropriate for school visits. A petition was organised on Change.org.
- "ALVA - Association of Leading Visitor Attractions". www.alva.org.uk. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
- "National Museums Northern Ireland". Retrieved 2010-12-03.[permanent dead link]
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 October 2006. Retrieved 7 November 2008.
- O'Toole, Shane (31 December 2006). "Apocalypse now, if we are not careful" (PDF). The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- "Museums - DCAL Internet". Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
- "Museum doors close for renovation". BBC. 2 October 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-08.
- P.Larmour 1987 Belfast An Illustrated Architectural Guide. Friar's Bush Press. ISBN 0-946872-10-4
- "Museum tops 100,000". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk.
- "Ulster Museum to reopen after £17m revamp". The Irish Times. 21 October 2009.
- "BBC NEWS - UK - Northern Ireland - Museum's never on a Monday policy". bbc.co.uk.
- "Habitas :: National Museums Northern Ireland" Check
|url=value (help). www.habitas.org.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
- For fuller details see List of hoards in Ireland
- Ulster Museum[permanent dead link]
- "Ulster Museum Herbarium" (PDF). Web.archive.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
- Harvey, W.H. 1841.A Manual of the British Algae:... London
- Hackney, P.ed. 1992. Stewart & Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland, p.85. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast. ISBN 0-85389-446-9
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 August 2015. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
- "Solomon Islands canoe". museum.vic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 6 September 2006.
- "Default page title - Royal Ulster Academy". royalulsteracademy.org.
- Stephen Glenn. "Stephen's Liberal Journal". stephensliberaljournal.blogspot.co.uk.
- Hackney, P. 1972. Notes on the vascular plant herbarium of the Ulster Museum. Irish Naturalists' Journal 17: 230 - 233.
- Hackney, P. 1980. Some early nineteenth century herbaria in Belfast. 20: 114 - 119.
- Hackney, P. 1981. British vascular plant collection of the Ulster Museum. Biology Curators' Group. 2: 2 - 3.
- Nesbitt, N. 1979. A Museum in Belfast. Ulster Museum.
- McMillan, N.F. and Morton, O. 1979. A Victorian album of algae from the north of Ireland with specimens collected by William Sawers. Irish Nataturalists' Journal. 19: 384 - 387.
- Morton, O. 1977a. A note on W.H.Harvey's algae in the Ulster Museum. Irish Naturalists' Journal 18: 26.
- Morton, O. 1977b. Sylvanus Wear's algal collection in the Ulster Museum. Irish Naturalists' Journal 19: 92 - 93.
- Morton, O. 1980. Three algal collections in the Ulster Museum herbarium. Irish Naturalists' Journal 20: 33 - 37.
- Morton, O. 1981a. Algae in Biology Curators Group Newsletter. 3: 12 - 13.
- Morton, O. 1981b American algae collected by W.H.Harvey and others, in the Ulster Museum Herbarium. Taxon 30: 867 - 868.
- Morton, O. 1994. Marine Algae of Northern Ireland. Ulster Museum, Belfast. ISBN 0-900761-28-8
- Praeger, R.L. 1949. Some Irish Naturalist.
- Deane, C. Douglas 1983. The Old Museum. in The Ulster Countryside. Century Books, The Universities Press (Belfast) Ltd. ISBN 0-903152-17-7
- Bourke, M. 2011. The Story of Irish Museums 1790 - 2000. Cork University Press. ISBN 1-85918-475-8
- Kertland, M.P.H. 1967. The specimens of Templeton's in the Queen's University Herbarium. Ir. Nat J. 15:318-322.
- Kertland, M.P.H. 1966. Bi-centenary of the birthday of John Templeton. Ir. Nat. J. 15: 229 - 323.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ulster Museum.|
- Ulster Museum - official website
- National Museums of Northern Ireland
- Habitas (Ulster Museum Sciences Division)