Museum of Free Derry and Siege Museum
Now in its third year, the NI Schools Outreach Programme has been consistently successful in attracting young people from different backgrounds to visit both the Museum of Free Derry and the Siege Museum, where they have a discussion and Q&A with representatives from each institution.
While the Museum of Free Derry details events spanning 1968–1972 from a nationalist perspective, including the civil rights movement, Battle of the Bogside and Bloody Sunday, the nearby Siege Museum covers the city’s 400-year-old unionist history, which began with the plantation of Ulster and the creation of Derry’s historic walls.
Contentious issues from our history can be used as tools for education and reconciliation
The programme aims to foster understanding and tolerance of differing traditions and cultures across the north of Ireland, bringing young people from these different backgrounds together in shared spaces to promote dialogue.
“Students learn about history, identity and culture they may feel as more associated with other communities, and we hope that by being exposed to and discussing these experiences, they will come to understand and accept different cultures and traditions,” says Julieann Campbell, heritage and programmes coordinator at the Museum of Free Derry.
“These beneficial effects can then ripple out to affect positive attitudinal change within families, schools and communities. By introducing students to two important parts of our history, it also encourages cross-community use of both sites and shows how contentious issues from our history can be used as tools for education and reconciliation.”