World Cultures

World Cultures

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 multiple stories of the people and places associated with it and its journey into the museum’s collection.

Objects in the collection include baskets, masks, figures, tools and weapons, clothing and jewellery.

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.

For information on our Inclusive Global Histories approach see Inclusive global histories at National Museums NI.

Repatriation News

Image: Photograph of Repatriation ceremony at Ulster Museum. Pictured left to right: Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive at National Museums NI, Dane Uluwehi Maxwell, Norman Mana Caceres, Brandy Kalehua Caceres, and Starr Kalahiki – Hui Iwi Kuamo’o, and Aaron Snipe, United States Embassy
Photograph of Repatriation ceremony at Ulster Museum. Pictured left to right: Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive at National Museums NI, Dane Uluwehi Maxwell, Norman Mana Caceres, Brandy Kalehua Caceres, and Starr Kalahiki – Hui Iwi Kuamo’o, and Aaron Snipe, United States Embassy

Following ongoing dialogue with Native Hawaiian descendants and researchers and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, National Museums NI hosted an official handover ceremony at Ulster Museum on 5th May 2022 and successfully repatriated ancestral Hawaiian human remains, iwi kūpuna, and sacred objects, mea kapu, which were part of the World Cultures collection. The repatriation process involved a private ceremony followed by a public ceremony at Ulster Museum. Hawaiian representatives, National Museums NI colleagues and delegates from the United States Embassy were in attendance.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board Chair, Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey said: “The return of the iwi kūpuna and mea kapu to this delegation of Native Hawaiians, so that they may be returned home to their final resting place, is an act of compassion and understanding that is much needed and long overdue.”

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive at National Museums NI said: “National Museums NI believes it has legal and ethical responsibilities to redress the injustices shown to Native Hawaiian cultural values and traditions, and so through ongoing dialogue, it was agreed that these iwi kūpuna and mea kapu should be returned by repatriation to the Native Hawaiians through the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a self-governing corporate body of the State of Hawai’i.”’

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:

Anne Orr
Registrar
National Museums NI
Anne.orr@nmni.com
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.

Searchable list of collections

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TAPA; Cloak : Tapa

TAPA; Cloak : Tapa

Yellowish tapa with stamped ferns and flower decoration in red around the edge and intermittently overall....

Idol : Buddha

Idol : Buddha

Painted wooden figure of robed Buddha with flame finial. Shown in dhyana mudra (associated with meditation by the Buddha prior to Enlightment and with...

Hat : basketwork

Hat : basketwork

Attractive coil woven basket with unusual decoration. There are four vertical bands of diverging black arrowheads bordering a W design in brown and on...

MASK

MASK

Carved from single piece of light coloured wood, thinly painted white, black ornamentation on cheeks, eyes and lips, carved fringe round forehead...

Bowl

Bowl

Conventional border design punched with blunt instrument, made by natives from ammunition shell cases....

Hat : basketwork

Hat : basketwork

Strongly made coil woven hat with decoration consisting of five vertical panels of black, containing inverted reddish brown arrowheads, interspersed w...

Mask

Mask

Wooden mask painted blue with red lips and black moustache and eyebrows. The nostrils and ears are red. Masks like these were worn by secret dancing s...

Figure

Figure

Clothing carved to represent long robes, exaggeration of length of head and narrowness of face. Hands clasped in front of body holding what appears to...

CAN; Tea Can; Urn

CAN; Tea Can; Urn

Lidded metal container decorated cover in white, red, blue and black beads. 'Beads have been used both as currency and as jewellery since earliest tim...

Kachina doll

Kachina doll

Painted carved figure, sometimes called a doll. White and red ear pieces, pointed nose, holding a staff and rattle....

Arquebus stock; ramrod; lead shot

Arquebus stock; ramrod; lead shot

'Complete wooden stock of an arquebus (the lighter of the two forms of hand-gun); with it is its ramrod, 847mm lenght, and the lead ball found in the ...

Cook's third voyage

Cook's third voyage

Cook Atlas, second volume, constisting of maps and engraved illustrations. The Cook atlases cover the three epic voyages of Captain james Cook in the ...

King George III

King George III

This is one of a pair of whale scrimshaw teeth showing a have full-length portrait of George III (1760 – 1820) holding a crown and sceptre. The illust...

Ring

Ring

'Badly crushed gold ring; the bezel, now empty, had a setting for a single stone, the edges with pellet-decoration'. Flanagan, L. 'Ireland's Armada L...

Horse Trapping

Horse Trapping

Rope made of a number of fine silk cords with 13 silver plates suspended belowsed decoration. Silver knobs and long red silk cord at each end....

Sword

Sword

Sword, throwing Knife Sudan....

Basket : bottleneck

Basket : bottleneck

coil woven basket with design of chevron and open lozenge in black....

CHAIN; Gold chain

CHAIN; Gold chain

'Simple gold chain of 407 links, each 10mm long, of 2.5mm thick, gold wire, butt-jointed'. Flanagan, L. 'Ireland's Armada Legacy' (1988) p.193...

Hat : basketwork

Hat : basketwork

Coil woven hat with lightning pattern of solid brown in five units. One small row of yellow in each unit. Rim and base damaged and worn....

Frontlet

Frontlet

Wooden frontlet of hawk gripping the head of a beaver. There are holes along the top for feathers or walrus whiskers but these are now missing. Two po...

CHAIN; Gold chain

CHAIN; Gold chain

'Heavy gold chain consisting of 136 links, 13mm long, of 2mm thick gold wire, butt- jointed; some of the joints are slightly open'. Flanagan, L. 'Irel...

Basket : Bottleneck

Basket : Bottleneck

Coil woven bottleneck basket with rattlesnake pattern in brown and black on cream....

Cradle

Cradle

Strongly-made boat-shaped carrying cradle in imbricated basketwork. The sides are decorated with black and cream and red dyed cane and the carrying st...

Hat

Hat

Coil woven basket with three rows of lozenge design in brown at the rim....

Hat : basketwork

Hat : basketwork

Coil woven hat with double running chevron design at base and rim in black...

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