The reopening of Northern Ireland’s museums from 24 May means the end of lockdown is finally in sight for cultural institutions in all parts of the UK.
As with museums elsewhere, venues in Northern Ireland are reopening cautiously, with some smaller museums not yet ready to bring the public back in. But come next week there’ll still be plenty to see and do for museum-lovers.
One of the first venues to reopen will be Belfast’s Linen Hall Library on 24 May. The institution is welcoming visitors back with a new cafe established in collaboration with the Writers Cafe Group, which will serve light snacks – as well as luxuries like champagne granola and caviar breakfast – in decor inspired by Irish mythology and folklore.
The Siege Museum in Derry-Londonderry is opening on the same day, when visitors will be able to view its permanent displays on the history of the Siege of Londonderry and of the Associated Clubs of the Apprentice Boys of Derry.
Enniskillen Castle’s two museums, Fermanagh County Museum and the Inniskillings Museum, will also be resuming tours on 24 May.
National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) is reopening three of its sites in 25 May, Ulster Museum in Belfast, Ulster Transport Museum in Cultra and the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh.
The public will finally be able to see the groundbreaking exhibition at Ulster Museum, Collecting the Past, Making the Future, which marks the centenary of the partition of Ireland. The exhibition brings together objects from key collections at NMNI and partners across the island to tell the story of events up to and around the formation of Northern Ireland.
Fashion lovers will also have another chance to see La Belle Epoque - Fashions of the 1870s-1910s, an Ulster Museum exhibition of some of the most beautiful outfits from NMNI’s permanent collection, including a recently donated silk satin wedding dress dating from 1896.
In Magherafelt, Seamus Heaney HomePlace will open its doors on 26 May. Visitors will be able to see the venue’s Seamus Heaney Exhibition, which explores the world of the poet, and the people and places that inspired him.
The interactive exhibition, which runs until 31 December, is filled with personal stories and images, while a recreation of Heaney’s Dublin study will transport visitors back to 1995, the year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Previously unseen artefacts, transcripts and books donated by the Heaney family are also on display.
The Museum of Free Derry will reopen on 27 May, telling the story of Bloody Sunday, the campaign for civil rights and the Battle of the Bogside.
Also reopening on 27 May is Titanic Belfast. In addition to its permanent Titanic Experience galleries, visitors will also be able to see a rolling display of artefacts from the archives of Maritime Belfast Trust and learn more about how the city’s shipbuilding legacy was born.