Belfast and beyond have hundreds of museums to visit, so we have created a list of the top 10 museums you cannot miss! This list includes the famous Ulster Museums, the Ulster American Folk Park and the War Memorial Gallery.
The Ulster Museum is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences and is free to all visitors. The museum tells the story of the people of the north of Ireland from earliest times to the present day. Impressive galleries and interactive discovery zones bring history, science and art collections to life for visitors of all ages. Free entry.
Ulster Folk Museum
Step back in time in and uncover a way of life from 100 years ago. Discover cottages, farms, schools and shops as you wander through the beautiful parkland of the Folk Museum chatting to costumed visitor guides demonstrating traditional crafts. Explore authentic exhibit buildings, speak to historic characters and meet the makers as they perform daily craft demonstrations such as basket making, blacksmithing and baking.
North Down Museum
North Down Museum tells the story of the North Down area from the Bronze Age to the present day through a series of rooms, each dedicated to a particular era of history. Key artifacts on display include the Bronze Age Ballycroghan Swords, the Bangor Bell from the hugely important Bangor Abbey settlement, and the Raven Maps, the only complete folio of Plantation era maps in Ireland. Free entry.
Ulster American Folk Park
The indoor exhibition at the Ulster American Folk Park examines life in Ulster in the 18th and 19th centuries and shows how the settlers adapted to the new and unfamiliar environment in America. The outdoor museum brings to life people’s daily routines and activities in both the Old and New Worlds and is the ultimate in living history. An Ulster street, complete with original shop fronts, and an American street have been reconstructed alongside a full-scale dockside galley and ship, the Brig Union. Together they recreate the conditions that many thousands of emigrants experienced before, during and after the arduous Atlantic crossing.
Irish Linen Centre
Explore Ireland’s industrial heritage in the museums award-winning exhibition Flax to Fabric: The Story of Irish Linen. Trace the history of linen production in Ulster, from the earliest times to the present day, and see live spinning and weaving demonstrations. The Irish Linen Centre and Lisburn Museums galleries also feature a range of temporary and visiting exhibitions, featuring the history of Lisburn and its people, local artists, textile and linen industry and local poets and writers. Free entry.
Ulster Transport Museum
Explore Ulster’s history of transport, social change and spirit of innovation at Ulster Transport Museum. Explore majestic locomotives, horse-drawn carriages, and Irish-built vintage motorbikes throughout the Road Gallery and Rail Gallery. Celebrate the great innovations of Ulster including the famous Delorean, Ferguson tractor and the ‘Celtic Wave: A History of Surfing’ exhibition in the Land, Sea and Sky Galleries.
Whitehead Railway Museum
This fascinating five-gallery museum provides an exciting opportunity to rub shoulders with the giants of steam. You can step onto the footplate of a heritage steam engine and learn how it works, walk through several historic carriages and observe from a viewing gallery as restoration work takes place on locomotives and coaches. The museum is the perfect place to hear entertaining stories of the railways of yesteryear and to learn about how the railway companies transformed society more than 100 years ago.
War Memorial Gallery
The war memorial gallery is a must-see attraction for visitors with an interest in the Home Front and US Forces in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. The activities of the local people on the Home Front and the US Forces are displayed in life size dioramas. The fallen are remembered in a magnificent stained glass window, a commemorative wall in black Belgian marble and a granite plinth containing Books of Remembrance from both world wars. The Belfast blitz of 1941 is recalled with an iconic memorial by the distinguished Irish sculptress, Carolyn Mulholland.
Discover Ulster Scots
The Discover Ulster-Scots Centre is situated on the ground floor of the Corn Exchange Building and contains information displays, free educational literature, a presentation space and a book and gift shop. Find out which heritage trails will lead you down the path to your ancestors. Free entry.
Museum at The Mill
Housed within what was originally the wet spinning floor of the mill, the museum tells the story of Mossley Mill and the people who worked there. The museum features the development of the mill in recent years as a civic and cultural centre and important site for natural heritage. Through a range of colourful displays including artefacts, images and archival film, you can explore both the past and present of this unique historical site. The museum conveys a real sense of the people who worked in the mill and their stories and histories.
Museum of Orange Heritage
The Museum of Orange Heritage, Schomberg House, focuses on the history and traditions of the Orange Institution, beginning with the Glorious Revolution, and travels right through until the present day. There is a strong focus on Orangeism around the world with a fascinating and exciting collection of artefacts to enhance the story of the Institution. You can experience the Orange story through new audio visual technologies and interactive facilities, and view the stunning artefacts, dating from 1689.