The World Cultures collection is closely linked to the history of the Ulster Museum and primarily covers material from the Arctic, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand). Every object tells a story not only of the person who made or used it but also of the person who collected it.
Objects in the collection include baskets, masks, figures, tools and weapons, clothing and jewellery. One of the rarest items in the collection is a tapa cloth figure from Easter Island, which was recently displayed at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra alongside one of only two other known examples in the world.
In light of the decolonisation agenda within museums the implementation of a new approach to these collections is a priority for National Museums NI. We aim to be open and collaborative in our actions, to include multiple perspectives and encourage dialogue.
Repatriation and Restitution Proposals
National Museums NI welcomes enquiries about the repatriation or restitution of material in the World Cultures collections. All enquiries should be addressed to:
National Museums NI
028 9039 5151
Please provide accession numbers (if known), information about the objects covered by the enquiry, and background as to why a return to the community of origin is being sought
Our Registrar will acknowledge receipt of the enquiry and schedule a meeting where the enquiry will be discussed in more detail. Following this meeting, and a period of further discussion and information gathering and sharing, a formal repatriation proposal may then be made to the Chief Executive Officer of National Museums NI. Our Registrar will discuss what information is required for the formal request. The Chief Executive Officer will acknowledge receipt of the formal proposal and provide an indicative timeline for the decision making process. The proposal will then be presented to National Museums NI’s Board of Trustees for their consideration, the outcome of which will be communicated to the interested parties in a timely manner.