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reawakening the ulster folk museum

Connect with the past. Make sense of the present. Build the future.

Two women in old fashioned clothing walking with a donkey in the countryside
In the early 1960s, inspired by the vision of Estyn Evans (1905-1989), a cottier's house in Magilligan, Co. Londonderry was transported "stone by stone" to a new location in Cultra, Co. Down, rebuilt and opened to the public.
The life of the Ulster Folk Museum had begun.

For over half a century, the museum has preserved and interpreted the way of life and traditions of the people of Ulster that are fast disappearing in an increasingly globalised world. As we look to the problems of the present - rapid technological advancement, social division, disconnection and isolation, and environmental degradation - the knowledge and collections held within the museum still have an important role to play. 

As we approach our 60th anniversary, we believe that now is the time to 'reawaken' the museum and expand its role as a heritage and environment resource, making it more relevant and more resilient for current and future generations.

A Reawakening

Rooted in a sense of community, the Ulster Folk Museum was designed to celebrate shared heritage and cultural diversity.

Those who helped found the museum travelled the breadth of the province to identify buildings to relocate, collect objects, oral histories and photographs, and build a comprehensive picture of the rich social fabric of Ulster and the lives and cultural traditions of its people. 

Throughout its history, the museum has kept evolving to respond to social change and conflict in Northern Ireland, always illustrating that we are better equipped to face the problems of the present if armed with a fuller knowledge of the past. Our extensive collections and archives weave together Ulster’s living traditions and customs, providing invaluable resources for exploring cultural identity and expression.

Our Plans

The creation of more ways to get involved in the museum will create active links between past and present, positioning the museum as an essential heritage and environment resource serving as a hub of connection - to ourselves, to each other, and to the environment. 

Through a focus on environment and sustainability, we will be a place where people can learn to live more in harmony with nature and the rhythms of the year. Through skills development, we will be a resource for developing creative skills and improving wellbeing through heritage crafts. Through a renewed commitment to the museum's founding vision of its peacebuilding role, we will be a resource for exploring identity and cultural diversity. We believe that everyone can find themselves reflected in the past of Ulster, and in doing so, can see themselves in the future of Ulster.

We will achieve a reawakening museum through innovative programming, diverse education programmes, and new and improved buildings and spaces - one of which will be the Culture Hub. 

The Culture Hub

An iconic new building will provide a sense of welcome and orientation to the museum. The heart and hearth of the Culture Hub will be a space where we can showcase our collections while offering contemporary facilities for fostering community engagement and dialogue. 

On this page you'll find ways to keep up to date with the Reawakening and join us on our journey.

The development of this project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund thanks to National Lottery players.

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Made possible with Heritage Fund