Pocket Britain
Britain > N.Ireland > Belfast > Ulster Museum

A huge museum containing just about everything


Peter the Polar Bear
Egyptian Mummy
With 8000 square metres of exhibition space, this is the biggest museum in Northern Ireland. You'd think it would be difficult to fill such a large place, but the Ulster Museum manages to cram every spare centimetre with something interesting.
There's no focus on any one kind of exhibit. The building is shared by artwork, antiques and fossils, with each category taking equal share of the limelight. The collection is so large that even here, there isn't enough room to display everything at once.
Regardless of what exhibitions are happening at the time, you'll definitely be able to witness the incredible skill that human beings can train themselves to possess. There are exquisite paintings by British and Italian masters, while furniture and cutlery show a more functional approach to design. The display of contemporary ceramics is the only one in the world. The fashion collection, meanwhile, showcases the changing styles between the 18th century and the present.
Nature's artworks are represented too, with examples of animals from every corner of the globe. A particularly popular creature is Peter the polar bear, who used to live at Belfast Zoo before his unfortunate death. Peter was a big guy at 360 kilograms, but the staff eventually managed to preserve his body. He is the largest stuffed animal in Northern Ireland.
Another museum celebrity is Takabuti, a mummified ancient Egyptian lady from over 2500 years ago. At the time of her death she was a respected, wealthy woman, around 30 years of age. She looks somewhat graceful in her coiled bandages, although at the same time she's also thoroughly disgusting. Takabuti and her coffin were first revealed to the Northern Irish public way back in 1835. Newspapers reported that people never got tired of inspecting her. Today, the mummy is just one item in an Egyptian collection of over 2000 objects.
The exhibits at Ulster Museum cover places even further away than the ancient civilisations of prehistory. They're not even limited to this planet. The display of meteorites contains examples from as far away as Jupiter, some of which landed right here in Northern Ireland.
Despite the wide range of exhibits, there is nevertheless a slight skew towards artefacts from the local area. It is, after all, called the Ulster Museum. The universe is a big place and this is just a tiny part of it, but it's nevertheless packed full of interesting geology, beautiful wildlife and talented people.
With so much to see it's hard to know where to start. If you're completely baffled, try signing up to one of the free guided tours. They last for an hour and cover all 5 floors, giving an overview of everything on offer.
When you visit, don't forget to inspect the Ulster Museum's building; it's just as interesting as anything it contains. A traditional pillared exterior flows into a bizarre arrangement of stone rectangles, which are lit up colourfully at night. This is a newer extension dating from the 1960s. At the time, one commentator described its appearance as "almost barbaric....like a mastodon".
Visitor Information
Ulster Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday (closed Mondays), 10am to 5pm. Entry is FREE. Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB. Tel: 0845 608 0000

Back ~ Top ~ Home ~ Index

Pocket Britain is optimised for use on a smartphone or tablet with internet access. All content is subject to copyright. All reasonable methods have been used to ensure information supplied is accurate at the time of publication. However, it is advisable to check information before relying on it. Privacy Policy