Kim Mawhinney

Senior Curator of Art

  • Department: Art
  • Email address:

Core responsibilities:

Overall responsibility for the Applied Art collections including the specialist areas of ceramics, glass and furniture. 

Since 2009 Kim has also curated the Troubles Art collection.

Staff background:

Having decided that she wanted to work in the Ulster Museum after a visit at the age of nine, Kim was determined to become a museum curator. 

After completed a BA (Hons) Combined Studies in Art and Design and a Master of Philosophy on the history of museum collections, Kim volunteered at the Ulster Museum before being appointed Curator of Applied Art in 1995. Kim also completed the Museums, Libraries & Archives (MLA), UK; Leading Archives and Museums: Senior Managers Programme - Challenges of leadership in 2008. Since 2009 Kim has had a senior management role in the Art Department.

Building relationships and engaging with collaborative projects with national and international partners has been key in both her curatorial practice and for bringing important exhibitions to the Ulster Museum. This has included working in partnership with the 14-18 NOW, the National Portrait Gallery, the Courtauld Gallery, the National Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum, British Museum, Tate Gallery, Centre Culturel Irlandais (Paris), McMullan Museum of Art (Boston College), National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin), Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin), Chester Beatty Library (Dublin) and The Hunt Museum (Limerick).

Throughout her career Kim has curated, project managed, juried and selected exhibitions. In recent years she has curated national and international touring exhibitions such as, Colin Davidson: Silent Testimony, Art of the Troubles, Troubles Art and A False Dawn: Ursula Burke. Kim has been on selection panels for numerous exhibitions including the BP Portrait Award 2015 and Royal Ulster Academy Annual Exhibition, 2011-2019. In partnership, Kim has brought touring exhibitions to the Ulster Museum including, Weeping Window: Poppies (14-18 NOW), The Queen: Art and Image from the National Portrait Gallery, London, Revealed: Government Art Collection, The Art of Selling Songs and Street Art from the V&A, Wicked Wit and Costume Parisiens from the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, and Things Left Unsaid: Paul Seawright from Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris.

Kim was a member of the Project Board for the redevelopment of the Ulster Museum, which reopened in October 2009 and won the Art Fund prize in 2010. Following on from this experience she has worked with national partners, including the National Portrait Gallery and the Courtauld Gallery, to secure capital funding for their own redevelopment projects.

She has lectured and written about the history and development of museums and art curation, accessibility of art collections, curating and interpreting Troubles art, both nationally and internationally. Through community engagement and developing new audiences, Kim is an active advocate that museums exist for everyone.

External Roles:

Kim has served as external examiner for two international PhD students for the Ulster University (2019-2020). From 2007-12 Kim was external examiner for the National College of Art & Design in Dublin for both BA Honours and MA degrees, including a tutor to several MA students. Kim has also lectured on Museum Careers and Curation for the Ulster University. She also actively mentors artists, curators and academics.

  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Co Monaghan
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Craft NI
  • Member of the UK Museums Association
  • Member of the Irish Museums Association
  • Member of the British Art Network
  • Member of the SSN Contemporary Studio Ceramics
  • Member of the SSN Understanding British Portraits


  • Chair of the National Student Awards (2012-15) for the Royal Dublin Society.
  • Member of the Main Board for Art and Architecture Ireland
  • Vice Chair & Editor of Journal, Glass Society of Ireland 1995-2006
  • Vice Chair, Editor of Journal, Founding Member, Decorative and Fine Art Society in Ulster 1996-2002

Staff interests:

From working at the Ulster Museum and curating exhibitions for over 25 years, Kim likes to continually challenge the public’s perception of the role of art. She believes that art affects our everyday lives, as we are all constantly surrounded by art. In a post conflict society art has become more important than ever to help us understand our past, examine our present and confront our future.

Through the personal experience growing up in North Belfast during the Troubles, Kim’s involvement with art and the legacy of the conflict has led her to be invited to be part in the international debate on post-conflict communities on several occasions including working with the WAVE Trauma Centre, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, the Victims and Survivors Forum and Healing Through Remembering. She has given papers at national and international conferences on Troubles Art and Colin Davidson: Silent Testimony exhibitions.

Kim’s love for museums, art and culture plays a huge role in her life outside the museum. Travelling is usually a Busman’s Holiday for Kim which she also combines with her love of food. She has a passion for all things history of food related and has collected over 160 books on the subject.



Kim has contributed to national and international publications including;

  • Museum Ireland
  • The Encyclopaedia of Ireland
  • The Oxford Companion to Irish History
  • The Curator’s Handbook
  • The Irish Arts Review
  • Neues Glass
  • Ceramics Ireland

Exhibition catalogues including;

  • The British Glass Biennale 2008
  • Marks of Distinction on the Ulster Museum, Belleek Pottery Collection
  • Past Glazing, Future Gazing: the Ceramic World of Peter Meanley


TEDxStormontWomen ‘Art can tread where words and politics often can’t’ | Kim Mawhinney

Ulster Museum exhibition Silent Testimony explores individual loss through the Troubles with portraits by artist Colin Davidson.

Kim Mawhinney presents her talk 'Belfast's Marmite Building: Love it or Hate it? as part of RESFEST Belfast at The Ulster Museum, 25 October 2018.

Revealed: Government Art Collection at Ulster Museum