Research

Find out how we use research at National Museums NI and how you can access our collections.

Temporary Suspension of Research Enquiries

National Museums NI is currently recruiting for a new Research Coordinator, and during this time we are unable to facilitate detailed research enquiries.

If you have a question for our curators, you will find contact details on their profile pages.

Please keep an eye out here for updates on when normal services will resume. Thank you for your understanding.

Research into the collections forms the foundations for everything we do at National Museums NI. Whether involving our curators or collaborative partners (e.g. Universities), research increases our knowledge and understanding of the specimens in our care.  We aim to use the outcomes of our research to inspire and engage audiences through exhibition content and outreach but also to inform how the museum’s collections develop over time.

Research is also recognised as a vital tool for museums to move beyond being traditional repositories of “things” and to modernise their outlook and approach.  We believe research using our collections, often in partnership with others, can improve how our museums contribute to debates about contemporary society. 

Whilst research has always been important, we believe that integrating research outcomes into what National Museums does will provide a better experience for our visitors.

Research Priorities

National Museums NI has extensive, significant collections across the disciplines of History, Art and Natural Sciences. Our organisational research priorities reflect the strengths of these collections and align with the ambitions and commitments outlined in National Museums NI’s Corporate Strategy 2021-5. Whilst research activity will not be limited to these priorities, particular attention and resources will be devoted to them, and they will help inform decision making and act as a guide for those wishing to undertake research in partnership with us.

History

  • Troubles and Beyond –the civil and political conflict known as ‘the Troubles’ has dominated the history of Northern Ireland from the late 1960s. Taking in multiple perspectives, we seek to provide context to this period by examining political, social, economic, and cultural activity, and we consider the impact and legacy of the conflict today.
  • Industry and Innovation – from linen to ships, ejector seats to pneumatic tyres, we are interested in how industry and innovation in this place have transformed both economy and society, through successes and failures, growth and decline.
  • Cultural Diversity and Identity – questions of who we are and how we express our identities are complex and can be contentious. In considering cultural diversity and identity, we look back across history and consider the beliefs, symbols, customs and prejudices that have shaped our past and our present.
  • Inclusive Global Histories – our collections are simultaneously local and international, and through an inclusive approach to global histories and decolonisation we seek to bring marginalised voices to the fore and promote mutual respect and understanding.

Art

  • Art and Ideas – Irish and International Art, both fine and applied, are the greatest strengths of our collection. Through ‘Art and Ideas’ we consider artistic expression and practice, both what has informed Irish and International Art and the influences they have had within the context of the wider development of Western Art.
  • Diversity in Art –National Museums NI has made a commitment to champion, inclusion, diversity and accessibility. For our Art collections this means recovering and celebrating those who have traditionally been overlooked, whether due to gender, race, sexuality, disability or class.
  • Troubles Art – We are interested in how artists have responded to the recent conflict and its legacy through their artistic practice, and how art offers unique avenues for exploring and reflecting upon the manifestations and impact of violence and of division in our society.

Natural Sciences

  • Understanding Environmental Change – Our natural environment is in crisis globally, threatened by climate change, pollution and habitat destruction, resulting in biodiversity loss. We seek to unlock the invaluable and irreplaceable information held in our Natural Sciences collections, to help advance understanding of environmental change and identify its potential mitigations.
  • Reconnecting with Nature – We are interested in how, through our collections, on-site wild places and environmental data sets, we can reconnect people with nature and encourage individual agency in recording, championing and protecting our natural world.

 

If you are interested in accessing our collections to undertake research then please follow the links below.

 

Temporary Closure of Ulster Folk Museum Textiles stores

At the end of June 2021 the textile stores at the Ulster Folk Museum will be closing until the 31st March 2023. The closure will facilitate the movement of the collections to newer, and more accessible, stores within the Ulster Folk Museum site.

During this time the collections will not be accessible to members of the public or researchers.   We appreciate this will be inconvenient but the new facilities will improve how we accommodate access requests in the future. If you have any questions about the closure then please email National Museums NI’s research coordinator.

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