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Reminiscence & loan boxes

Our museums are excellent places for reminiscence and both the Ulster Museum and Ulster American Folk Park provide loan box services for groups.

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Ulster Museum

The Reminiscence Loan Boxes focus on different life experiences. Each box contains objects, information and images, and often, suggestions for use. Contents may vary from those listed.


This is a free service, available to groups of all ages.

  • Only one box can be borrowed at a time.
  • Boxes are on loan for a maximum of two weeks.

To book, contact

Collection of boxes is from the staff entrance of the Ulster Museum, adjacent to the Stranmillis entrance.

The following loan boxes are available from the Ulster Museum:


Hours spent playing with roller skates, a skipping rope, toy cars or nursing a well-loved doll will evoke memories of childhood for many.

Going out

This box reminds us of a time when going out was associated with real glamour including evening gloves, furs and fashion accessories, and a ballroom dancing book.  

Housework and Home Life

This box serves as a reminder of the work that went into running a home in the post-war period. It includes a flat iron, dolly pegs, kitchen utensils and some cleaning materials.


Knitting patterns, sewing kits, embroidery rings and crochet needles are a few of the objects found in the handcraft box.

Men and work

The carpenter’s plane, barber’s clippers and doctor’s stethoscope are among tools of the trade found in this box.


The leather satchel, school bell, wooden pencil boxes, nibbed pens, inkwells, slate marker and an abacus are among the reminders of the years spent in a classroom.

Home Front WW2

Memories of wartime are triggered by items such as an air raid warden's helmet, a baby’s gas mask, children's storybooks and clothing coupons.

1950s decade box

Coronation mugs, ‘Evening in Paris’ perfume, ration books and a ‘ten bob note’ are among the objects in the 1950s box.

1960s decade box

Among objects from the sixties are white sling back shoes, orange kitchen ware, Omo washing powder and Coty’s L’Aimant perfume,  articles, and photographs.

1970s decade box

Contents include a ‘kipper’ tie, decimal money, platform shoes and Green Shield stamps.  

Days away and holidays

A suitcase packed with objects associated with our holidays away, including a bucket and spade and some Yellow Man, photographs and song sheets.


A washboard, bluebag, dolly pegs, a flour bag sheet and a selection of irons are among the reminders of the different chores involved in doing household laundry in the past.


Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

The Ulster Folk & Transport Museum provides the perfect environment to inspire and encourage reminiscence: the open air Folk Museum with its urban and rural settings; the Folk galleries with their Food and Farming exhibition; and the Transport Galleries.

As you enter our farmhouses, bank, shops and churches you can chat to costumed visitor guides see familiar objects or watch the traditional crafts demonstrations such as basket making, blacksmithing and weaving.


The Ulster American Folk

The Ulster American Folk Park is a wonderful place to experience life in the past with the smell of the turf fires or the clucking of hens.

Booking a Loan Box

We offer a loan box service, which includes ideas on how to use the items with a group, related craft ideas, and some DVDs.   

To book a box, please contact Pauline Gardiner, Education Officer, on 028 8225 6305 or Margaret O'Driscoll, Education Assistant, on 028 8225 6310. This is a FREE service.

Current loan boxes available from the Folk Park are:

Introductory Box

This box is full of objects which can trigger memories or start discussions.  It includes a china tea pot, a candle mould, a flour bag, a book of Irish songs and an inkwell.

Rural and Home Life Box

This box contains items relating to life in Ireland, particularly county Tyrone, in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as a pair of butter pats or spades, a medicine bottle, a tobacco tin and furniture wax.

Box for the Boys

Specifically designed with men in mind, this box includes sports-related material and hand tools such as a wood planer and rope maker.  Photographs of men working and socialising along with background on farming and linen, will help guide your discussions.

The 1950s

With a range of items associated with life in the 1950s, this box covers themes such as house and home, fashion, cooking, popular music and film.  Objects include a ration book, shaver, gloves and fur stole, trouser braces, hats and a camera.


Everyone has memories of their school days and their favourite – and not so favourite - teacher!  This box includes a blackboard duster, a slate, skipping rope and a selection of books such as Beatrix Potter favourite “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin”, “First steps in Irish” and a French verb book.


The Christmas box brings the season to life with typical toys, decorations, postcards and a CD of music to accompany your session.  Toys include a Teddy Bear, marbles and a pop-up book with paper chains, streamers and a yo-yo.

War Years 1914-18 and 1939-45

This box covers the periods of the First and Second World Wars with items to spark memories and craft ideas. It includes a “hussif” or housewife (a soldier’s sewing kit), a soldier’s tunic, postcards, a trench whistle, a medic’s bag, war poetry, photographs and information on nursing during WW 2.