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COVID-19 Update

Following further guidelines from the NI Executive, in response to the most recent public health update, our four museums - Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park - will remain closed for a planned four week period. 

 

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Troubles

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Troubles

The history of Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the present day has been dominated by the civil and political conflict known as ‘the Troubles.’ The events that took place here after 1968 have impacted not just the people of Northern Ireland, but people across the world. Our collection covers themes of politics and conflict, and the impact of both on everyday life, people and communities.

Part of our collecting process has involved consultation with communities, encouraging people to share direct testimony and bring in items to ensure multiple perspectives are represented. The objects, photographs, political ephemera and artwork in the Troubles collection represent a wide range of experiences. The Troubles collection includes items directly associated with the conflict – a rubber bullet, improved explosive devices, firearms and a bomb disposal robot. There is a large collection of material associated with the Northern Ireland Prison Service as well as crafts and artwork created by prisoners in Armagh Women’s Gaol, HM Prison Maze and Magilligan. There are many emotive objects in the collection and those that remain contested in terms of significance and meaning amongst those who experienced the conflict. While we have a shared past, we do not have a shared memory and it is through engaging with this collection that we have been able to encourage and open discussion that considers different viewpoints.

As with the Troubles and Beyond exhibition, the Troubles collection is not exclusively focussed on the conflict, but relates to contemporary history and therefore includes objects that represent our wider social, cultural and economic history. The collection is a dynamic one and it continues to be developed and refined. Recently acquired items include George Best’s Northern Ireland football jersey, a puppet of Gerry Adams from the TV series Spitting Image, material relating to the life and career of Belfast-born actor James Ellis and a collection of Pride t-shirts dating from 1991 when the first march was held in Belfast. We are constantly working to build and develop our contemporary collection to show social change, working life, arts and culture, and the ever changing environment around us. The Troubles did not take place in a vacuum. The reality of life is reflected in our personal memories and the photographs and mementoes that underpin our family history.

Do you have objects, photographs or stories that you would like to share with the museum? If so, we would be interested to hear from you. Please contact Rebecca Laverty, Assistant Curator of History, on 028 9039 5164 or Rebecca.Laverty@nmni.com.

Art of the Troubles

The Ulster Museum also has the largest collection of art works that relate to the Troubles. Throughout the 30 year period and up until today artists from Northern Ireland and beyond have responded to the conflict through their artistic practice.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection (2012) makes up a large proportion of the Troubles Art collection and includes seminal works by artists such as T.P. Flanagan, Joseph McWilliams and Rita Duffy. It also represents Northern Irish performance art, an important artistic practice that developed during the conflict. See here for interviews with the artists.

Some of the earliest responses to the Troubles related specifically to deaths as a result of particular shootings or bombings. Later work reflected on the wider political and social situation and the causes and effects of the conflict. Themes have emerged which resonate through the subsequent decades – the physicality of violence, suffering and loss, dereliction and abandonment, the meaning and power of flags and symbols. The imagery used by artists often makes an obvious and direct connection to these themes. It can also be more subtle in conveying a deep sense of emotion and trauma.

However, with the dominant narrative of violence becoming more distant, artists seem more occupied with the ensuing social, economic, cultural and political changes and challenges. As Northern Ireland faces these issues, art will continue to offer unique avenues for exploring and reflecting upon the manifestations and impact of violence and of division in our society.

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Photographic print

Photographic print

Mounted print showing graffiti on wall in east Belfast, 'Up Paisley' and 'O'Neill Must Go.' In the wake of the meeting between Terence O’Neill and Sea...

National Democratic Group

National Democratic Group

Poster issued by the National Democratic Group, founded 1966, which aimed to modernise nationalist politics in Northern Ireland. Among these groups we...

£50,000 Reward for Information

£50,000 Reward for Information

This poster, offering a £50,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of individuals for murder and explosions was produced in the 1970s. ...

1st Anniversary

1st Anniversary

Menu and invitation to a dinner in the Park Avenue Hotel Belfast to celebrate the First Anniversary of the Northern Ireland Executive, 28 May 1974 (UU...

Photographic print

Photographic print

Mounted print of Peter Ward. Peter, from the Falls Road, was 18 when he was murdered. Former UVF leader Gusty Spence was one of the gang and he was la...

The Struggle of the Irish People

The Struggle of the Irish People

Poster issued by Sinn Fein, 30 Gardiner Place, Dublin, during their anti-Imperialist festival July 22nd - August 3rd. This poster advertises one of tw...

Unstable Explosives

Unstable Explosives

A mid-1970s poster produced by the security forces warning that explosives can become unstable over time. Again the poster asks the public to pass on ...

Photographic print

Photographic print

Photomontage of image of Sean Lemass and image of Terence O'Neill mounted together on board, to represent the historic meeting between Terence O’Neill...

Vote SDLP / 1 McCloskey E.V. / A New North / A New Ireland

Vote SDLP / 1 McCloskey E.V. / A New North / A New Ireland

Electoral poster. issuing authority : SDLP. 'Vote SDLP 1 McCloskey E.V.; A New North; A New Ireland', black on day-glo pink....

Vote Robert Bradford

Vote Robert Bradford

Poster issued by the United Ulster Unionist Council for one of the 1974 UK General Elections of that year. 'United Unionists, Vote Robert Bradford for...

Another Step Forward / Vote / SDLP

Another Step Forward / Vote / SDLP

Electoral poster. issuing authority : SDLP. 'Another Step Forward Vote SDLP', blue on day-glo orange....

One Strong Voice / Vote SDLP

One Strong Voice / Vote SDLP

Electoral poster. issuing authority : SDLP. 'One Strong Voice Vote SDLP', black on day-glo green....

A Divided Community? or Alliance

A Divided Community? or Alliance

Leaflet published by the Alliance Party, A Divided Community? or Alliance.You Know Northern Ireland can have a great future but only if Protestants an...

UVF Long Kesh

UVF Long Kesh

Painted on glass placard dedicated to U.V.F, R.H.C., and Y.C.V. This picture features images associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force and linked par...

comm

comm

Pair of Long Kesh/HMP Maze H-Block prison comms, written on cigarette papers, one in Irish one in English, referring to Hunger Strikers and O. C. H-Bl...

Let's Do Something about this Massive Misrepresentation

Let's Do Something about this Massive Misrepresentation

Leaflet pub;ished by the Ulster Unionist Council Public Relations Fund - Recently you will have seen many inaccurate articles and news reports about t...

Ulster Defence Regiment

Ulster Defence Regiment

A recruitment brochure for the Ulster Defence Regiment portraying a UDR soldier in a more active pose....

BADGE; stamp

BADGE; stamp

Pin fastening badge with a piece of sponge adhered onto a piece of white cardboard which has the Ulster Vanguard Party Badge stamped on it. These were...

Vote N. D. P.

Vote N. D. P.

Poster issued National Democratic Party, featuring candidate MacAllister for South Antrim for the Westminister Election, June 1970. 'Vote N. D. P. - M...

This is an Eire Free Zone

This is an Eire Free Zone

A loyalist poster from the post Anglo-Irish Agreement period. Black and red on an orange background, 'This is an Eire Free Zone - Ulster Free Forever....

Ulster still says NO

Ulster still says NO

Poster issued by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, 'Ulster Still Says No.' Printed with white and red text on a dark blue background. This poster was...

Force Feeding is Torture

Force Feeding is Torture

This poster is one of a series produced by supporters of eight republicans convicted of exploding car bombs in London in March 1973. The ten week long...

Insurrection

Insurrection

National Democratic Group poster, 'The only Direction is - Insurrection. The only Solution is Revolution.' Advertising for a meeting held in the Minor...

Lapel badge

Lapel badge

Lapel badge 'Francis Hughes Irish Freedom Fighter'...

For God and Ulster - Emergency

For God and Ulster - Emergency

A poster from the Ulster Constitution Defence Committee which was established by Rev. Ian Paisley in 1966. 'For God and Ulster - Emergency, All Protes...

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