On the recommendation of one of my fellow hostel workers, Jack and I went to visit Ulster Museum. It’s very different to the museums we visited in Dublin, but more along the lines of what I’m used to with museums – it has a little bit of everything.
The museum is designed in a spiral, so it’s best to start at the top and work your way down. The very top floors are dedicated to applied art. The definition of art being tested in many respects. One piece they had on display was, quite literally, a pile of towels. Even the bathroom service and gown of an 18th century aristocrat is also considered art and with the detail on the silk, it was easy to see why. The museum has a really neat little exhibition about fashion through the ages – something I’m really in to. This was right next door to the fine art gallery which is more along the lines of what I would classify as art 😛
After Art, you spiral down through the natural history and science & technology sections. There was a small amount of taxidermy here. Nowhere near as much as the Natural History museum in Dublin, though! It is also the first museum I’ve been to with a dinosaur skeleton. The Triceratops – one of my favourites.
A large section of the museum was sectioned off for a new exhibit, so the museum seemed a little small. Overall, Ulster Museum was a nice snapshot of history, but wasn’t overly specific to Northern Ireland, Ulster or Belfast. The new section will be dedicated to Ulster history and I’ll have to go back to check it out later in the year.
The only thing I enjoyed in the science section was the detailed periodic table of the elements. We also found some evidence from someone who really wasn’t having a good time… or were they? Turns out this kid really loved poop a lot more than giving feedback about the section! Ha!
I thought the section on the Spanish Armada would have been bigger or more detailed as the ships spent a lot of time sinking around the coast of Northern Ireland during the 1500s. I supposed there is not much to show for those ships that went down except for their cannons! The Egyptian section really made up for it, in my opinion. Belfast has two very fine Ptolemaic sarcophagi and Belfast was the location of the UK’s second mummy unwrapping. Back in the day, (you know, the 19th Century, those days) “scientists” and wealthy people used to have mummy unwrapping parties. A sarcophagus with a mummy is always a big find for Egyptology and the dead are normally buried with amulets wrapped into the folds of linen that encase the body.
Another thing I want to point out is the large section of guilt-tipping World War 1 recruitment posters that are on display at the moment. Enough to make anyone feel so bad that they might just join the army!