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COVID-19 Update

Due to the latest guidance from the NI Executive, our museums will remain closed until further notice. We look forward to welcoming visitors back to our museums when it is safe to do so and we would like to thank the public for their continued support and patience.

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Animal life

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Animal life

The Ulster Museum’s collection of animal specimens reminds us of some of the threats facing the natural world. Some of our most treasured specimens are of creatures that were driven to extinction by hunting. Our collection covers all types of creatures and is divided into vertebrates (with backbones), and invertebrates (without backbones).

There are taxidermy mounts, skeletons, and skins of many birds and mammals found in and around Northern Ireland, and from all around the world. Among the invertebrates we have huge collections of insects and molluscs.

Mammals

Our collection holds examples of every mammal species living in Northern Ireland today, and skeletons of whales and dolphins that have washed up on our shores. The enigmatic thylacine is here, as is the bizarre duck-billed platypus. The collection contains more than 2000 mammal mounts, skins, and skeletons. The finest of these are on display, while many more form an important reference collection.

Birds

More than 300 bird species are known from Northern Ireland, and our collections include mounts of nearly all of them. Many were prepared in the early 20th century by the famous Sheals taxidermists of Belfast. Today, vital conservation regulations restrict this type of collecting, and the museum no longer engages in it. The collection is an important scientific reference collection—some the best of these are on display, or on loan to other organisations.

Aquatic and marine life

Northern Ireland’s seas are rich with life. Some of our freshwater lakes and rivers are home to rare animals and plants. Our collection holds many of these specimens— from minute molluscs to mighty whales, and from endangered freshwater pearl mussels to types of lake trout found nowhere else in the world.

Insects and invertebrates

Just as there are more insects on the planet than any other animal group, so there are more insects in the Ulster Museum collection than all the other specimens combined. Most of our insect specimens are from the UK and Ireland, but many are from further afield. Among them are the exceptional collections of Morpho and Parnassius butterflies. We also have a significant collection of other invertebrates, particularly snails from across Ireland.

Searchable list of collections

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BIRD; Little Owl

BIRD; Little Owl

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Greenshank

BIRD; Greenshank

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; House Sparrow

BIRD; House Sparrow

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Little Bittern

BIRD; Little Bittern

form : mount, age : immature...

BIRD; Shelduck

BIRD; Shelduck

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Buzzard

BIRD; Buzzard

form : mount, sex : female...

BIRD; Whimbrel

BIRD; Whimbrel

form : mount, age : adult...

BIRD; Bonaparte's Gull

BIRD; Bonaparte's Gull

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Pintail

BIRD; Pintail

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Common Pheasant

BIRD; Common Pheasant

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Tawny Owl

BIRD; Tawny Owl

form : mount, sex : female...

BIRD; Lady Amherst Pheasant

BIRD; Lady Amherst Pheasant

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Gannet

BIRD; Gannet

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Turnstone

BIRD; Turnstone

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Roseate Tern

BIRD; Roseate Tern

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Treecreeper

BIRD; Treecreeper

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Budgerigar (Light Green/Yellow)

BIRD; Budgerigar (Light Green/Yellow)

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Common Myna

BIRD; Common Myna

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Golden Plover

BIRD; Golden Plover

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Stock Dove

BIRD; Stock Dove

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Hoatzin

BIRD; Hoatzin

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Kittiwake

BIRD; Kittiwake

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Blue Tit

BIRD; Blue Tit

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Little Grebe

BIRD; Little Grebe

form : mount, sex : male...

BIRD; Grey Heron

BIRD; Grey Heron

form : mount, age : nestling...

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