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COVID-19 Update

Due to the latest guidance from the NI Executive, our museums will remain closed for a planned period ending on 11 December. We are excited to be putting the finishing touches to our plans for Christmas activities. 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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Christmas gift brings artistic masterpiece to Ulster University’s Belfast campus

This year's Art Unwrapped initiative has launched The world famous painting ‘Saint Cecilia’ by Romanelli will be exhibited at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus

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Ulster University, Belfast City Council and National Museums NI will work in partnership this Christmas to exhibit world famous painting ‘Saint Cecilia’ by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus. 

The painting will be accessible for public viewings from 11th December to 12th January 2020 and will be free to attend, with booking recommended due to anticipated high demand.  

The exhibition is the centre piece from this year’s ‘Art Unwrapped’ partnership project which is now in its second year following the display of ‘Emigrant Ship Leaving Belfast’ by James Glen Wilson as the featured artwork in 2018.  

In addition to the exhibition of ‘Saint Cecilia’, this year’s Art Unwrapped initiative will encompass a new educational outreach feature, with five schools including; Boys Model, Girls Model, Blessed Trinity, Mercy, and Hazelwood (all from North Belfast) gaining exclusive access to art sessions delivered by Ulster University’s School of Art and National Museums NI, introducing students to the painting and exploration of the themes associated with Romanelli’s masterpiece. 

As part of the educational outreach, pupils in each school will take part in a festive competition and will be tasked with creating their own interpretive panels based on their exploration and interpretation of the painting. These panels will be on display along with the Romanelli painting at Ulster University’s Belfast Campus. One set of panels as created by students will then be chosen as a winner by a team of judges and the public. 

Professor Raffi Folli, Provost Of Ulster University’s Belfast campus talked about the upcoming Art Unwrapped project: 

“Ulster University is proud to be working at the heart of Belfast’s Art Unwrapped project for the second year running. The partnership with Belfast City Council and National Museums NI represents a major civic project for us and will bring positive economic and arts impacts to the city both in terms of the wider public and through educational participation, a new feature for 2019. At Ulster University’s School of Art on the Belfast campus, we have a rich history in bringing through some globally renowned artists, and by opening this project to the public we hope to inspire the next generation of artists. This is a fitting Christmas gift to the city of Belfast which brings together elements of music and art and will be enjoyed by the public, once again ensuring Art Unwrapped remains a highlight for the city’s festive calendar.” 

Lord Mayor, Councillor John Finucane, said: “Belfast City Council is delighted to be working with our city partners, Ulster University and National Museums NI (NMNI), for the second year running on ‘Art Unwrapped’ to present another Christmas gift of art to the city. 

“This special exhibition of an artistic masterpiece by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, is a wonderful addition to the city’s fine festive offerings. The fact that the subject of this year’s painting is Saint Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Music is also quite fitting. Belfast is known for its rich and diverse musical talent and heritage and last year we backed proposals to bid for the endorsement of UNESCO City of Music status. We would encourage our citizens and visitors to book a slot to view this stunning piece of art at Ulster University’s York Street campus, and enjoy the many other things on offer in the city centre over the Christmas and New Year period.” 

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said: “National Museums NI is delighted to collaborate once again with Ulster University and Belfast City Council on ‘Art Unwrapped’.  It is fantastic to be able to loan this exquisite painting of Saint Cecilia by Romanelli, from our extensive art collection, and for it to go back on public display to be enjoyed by all.  Opening up access to the national collections to foster curiosity and inspiration, and working in partnership, is at the very heart of what National Museums NI does. I’m particularly pleased that we may have a new set of budding art curators from the schools involved in the outreach activity whose work will be displayed alongside this masterpiece.”