Ulster Museum

Ulster Museum
Botanic Gardens
Co. Antrim
Northern Ireland







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Northern Ireland's treasure house of the past and present.
Take 8,000 square metres of galleries, add rich collections of art, archaeology, local history and natural sciences, mix them with a constantly changing programme of temporary exhibitions and events, and you have all the ingredients for a fascinating voyage of discovery. From ancient Ireland to the South Pacific, from masterpieces of modern art to rare flowers, the Museum is a window to the north of Ireland and a window on the world.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Tues-Sun 10:00 - 17:00

Closed: Mon

Admission charges

Admission free

Additional info

Carparking within the Museum grounds is only available for visitors with a disability. Please call in advance to book.

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Coins and Medals, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Industry, Natural Sciences, Photography, Science and Technology, Social History, Toys and Hobbies, Weapons and War, World Cultures

Key artists and exhibits

  • Fine and Applied Arts
  • Archaeology
  • Ethnography
  • Local History
  • Natural History
Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

Elements: From Actinium to Zirconium

  • 7 March 2014 — 28 February 2016 *on now

From Actinium to Zirconium, it’s time to get switched on to science with a journey along the periodic table! Get set for an odyssey that will take you from the rocks beneath your feet to the most distant and ancient reaches of the Universe.

From microscopic viruses to vast galaxies – and you too – all are made from elements. In this new exhibition, find out where the elements were made, how they occur naturally, what they look like, how we use them, and why they can be dangerous!

Suitable for

  • Any age



Answer the Call: First World War Posters

  • 23 May 2014 — 10 May 2015 *on now

This exhibition forms part of the Ulster Museum's programme to mark the centenary of the First World War.

A powerful selection of First World War posters illustrates various aspects of the drive for recruitment between 1914 and 1918, and a range of visually-exciting calls for civilian support for the war effort.

Nearly 60 posters from the Ulster Museum’s extensive collection of First World War posters (over 200 in total) are displayed in three broad groups – Parliamentary Recruiting Committee posters (1915-1916); Irish Recruiting Posters (1914-1918) and posters promoting civilian support for the war effort, including two striking posters by the celebrated graphic artist Frank Brangwynn.

This is the first exhibition in Ireland which displays these posters as a large group, with the emphasis on the role of images in the story of war and as agents of media and marketing. It will be of special attraction to all with an interest in the history of the First World War in Ireland, and the role of graphic art and popular imagery in promoting support for it.



The Age of Liberty

  • 13 June 2014 — 19 April 2015 *on now

‘The Age of Liberty’ began around 1900, as the campaign for votes for women was challenging their traditional roles in society. This brought about a dramatic transformation in fashionable dress.

For the Edwardian lady, getting dressed had been a complicated business. She was expected to change her dress up to six or seven times a day and relied on a maid to assist with the uncomfortable, restricting corsetry that was developed to produce the ideal outline.

In 1906, the renowned fashion designer Paul Poiret declared ‘a war on corsets’, and produced beautiful dresses made of lightweight fabrics in soft colours. These were influenced by the Art Nouveau movement and the costumes of the Ballets Russe. By 1910 this modern silhouette had overtaken corseted styles, and the 1912 publication of the ‘Journal de Dames’ presented beautiful illustrations of these styles as inspiration for a new generation of liberated women.



Order and Revolution

  • 27 June 2014 — 26 April 2015 *on now

This display highlights the period between 1740 and 1840, which is generally considered a ‘golden age’ in British and Irish art.

Some of the finest portraits in the Ulster Museum collection, by Reynolds and Gainsborough, are shown with landscape painting, sculpture and furniture, to illustrate the order and formal elegance of the period. After 1750, a new and restless spirit, now termed Romanticism, started to appear in European art and literature. It became fashionable to admire the wildness and untamed quality of nature. By the early 1800s artists such as Lawrence and Turner had evolved a revolutionary manner of painting based on their individual response to nature.



New Art New Nature

  • 10 October 2014 — 28 June 2015 *on now

This exhibition, largely drawn from the Ulster Museum collection, looks at the role of nature in the work of Irish and International artists over the past seventy years.

The display begins with the Oceania textiles (1946) made by Matisse at the end of his career, when illness prevented him from painting. The ‘cut-out’ forms are designed to give a sense of the limitless freedom, lightness and space he had experienced when swimming in the South Seas in 1930. Matisse referred to ‘the irrepressibility of nature’ and this theme was taken up by William Scott in The Four Seasons Mural, (1959-62) for Altnagelvin Hospital, in which he translated the cyclical rhythms of the seasons into a highly accomplished abstract composition.

Nature as a potent, even overpowering, force is alluded to in Segura (2010), a video installation by Willie Doherty made in the Murcia region of southern Spain. The exhibition closes with two new acquisitions by Tyrone artist William McKeown (1962-2011). Untitled (2008) (Art Fund Grant 2014) is a luminous, abstract evocation of the sense of joyousness the artist experienced when looking at a light drenched early morning sky. This poetic response and sense of reverie is also present in Waiting for the Corncrake (2008) a series of delicate, atmospheric watercolours presented to the Ulster Museum by the artist’s estate in memory of William McKeown’s important contribution to Irish art.



Mrs Fuseli in a Large Hat, John Henry Fuseli,1741 - 1825. Ink & watercolour & bodycolour on paper

Uneasy Beauty

  • 12 December 2014 — 26 April 2015 *on now

John Henry Fuseli was one of the most inventive and original figures in British Art and, throughout his career, used the process of drawing to explore his thoughts and private fantasies.

Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Fuseli settled in London in 1765, and became well known for his dramatic paintings of scenes from Milton and Shakespeare. Fuseli was an important figure in intellectual and literary circles and it is through his drawings, which were never intended for exhibition, that we gain insight into his fascination with this theatrical and emotionally charged world.

The drawings in this display were presented to the museum in 1896 by Francis Johnston, a local artist. They are some of Fuseli’s finest drawings and watercolours and illustrate the complex, and sometimes erotic, workings of his imagination. They are mainly studies of women, some with the elaborate hairstyles associated with actresses and prostitutes; others are tender portraits of his wife, Sophia Rawlins. The final drawing, Pylades and Orestes, illustrates the visionary and heroic aspect of classical literature that Fuseli particularly admired.