Northern Ireland news

Ulster Folk Museum set to be `reawakened' at a cost of £50 million

The scheme includes the creation of a Culture Hub, which will create a greater sense of welcome and orientation for visitors
Marie Louise McConville

The Ulster Folk Museum is set to be "reawakened" at a cost of £50 million.

National Museums NI has submitted a planning application to develop the museum at Cultra in Co Down as a heritage and environment resource.

Expected to cost in the region of £50 million, the plans include the creation of learning facilities which will enable more people to get involved in heritage and environmental conservation.

First opened in 1964, the museum was founded to preserve a way of life which was beginning to disappear.

Now, almost 60 years on, the plans seek to "reawaken" the significance of these forgotten customs, skills and knowledge as resources for promoting new ideas and actions in response to issues of the modern world, such as cultural diversity, wellbeing and environmental change.

The scheme includes the creation of two new buildings.

A `Culture Hub' will create a greater sense of welcome and orientation for visitors while the `Industry Zone' will tell the story of industrialisation and include a unique collection that is currently inaccessible to the public.

Plans also include the re-purposing of currently inactive and underutilised spaces to allow activities such as heritage craft skills and environmental volunteering.

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said the body wanted to "ensure inclusive access to our museums and maximise the learning, wellbeing and economic benefits they bring to wider society.

"We have a fantastic opportunity to reawaken the Ulster Folk Museum and encourage people to reconnect with its heritage and environmental assets in new ways," she said.

"The rich cultural landscape and diverse collections preserved at the Ulster Folk Museum have never been more relevant to our lives today. With co-ordinated investment, we can help to bring people together through heritage and inspire new thinking about our shared and sustainable future".

Northern Ireland news