Book Tickets

touring the folk life store

Reawakening the Ulster Folk Museum means widening access to our collection.

Explore the Collection
A group of men stand around a curator, who is holding a box and speaking about the woven object inside.
Reawakening the Ulster Folk Museum means creating more ways to get involved in the museum - to offer a place to learn about heritage and find connection to the past, to community, and to ourselves.

We have over 200,000 objects, textiles, images and archives in the collections at the Ulster Folk Museum. Collecting began in earnest in the 1950s, with a dedicated team distributing questionnaires and cataloguing donations from an enthusiastic public. The founders of the museum believed that it could provide a sense of meaning in a world that was undergoing fast and dramatic societal and technological changes. 

That's why, since beginning our Reawakening journey, we have invited community groups, historical interest groups and societies for a behind the scenes tour of our Folk Life stores. Without a dedicated exhibition space at the Ulster Folk Museum, these group tours offer a unique opportunity for us to directly connect to communities and give an overview of the objects in our care.

Opening the Folk Life Store

Our first tour took place with Upper Ards Historical Society. After welcoming the Society to the museum, Curator of History Fiona Byrne led them around the Folk Life store, sharing how our collection of cradles, chairs and harnen stands can tell us about the history of Ulster. 

After touring the Folk Life Store, the Society was able to visit the Library and Archives. There, they read documents and listened to oral histories that related to the Ards Peninsula. 

A group of people stand in a library. The background wall is purple with big white letters reading ' National Museums NI Library & Archives'.

In May, Ballywalter Historical Society joined us to explore the Folk Life Store. After the tour, Fiona was able to share a few local objects with them, including a photograph of Ballywalter National School from the 1920s. Some members of the group were able to recognise a few pupils! 

A group of people walk down the aisle of a collection store. They are gathered around a curator, who is speaking


Future Tours

In the coming months, we will offer specific dates for groups and individuals to book a tour of the Folk Life store. 

We aim to continue to expand access and facilitate research into our collection. Along with offering tours throughout the year, we participate in  European Heritage Open Days, where we can open our stores up to the general public for a curator-led tour. As we Reawaken the Ulster Folk Museum, we hope to continue to share our collection through tours, our vigorous digitisation efforts and our proposed new Culture Hub, which includes dedicated permanent and temporary exhibition spaces. 

Four people stand in front of a table of objects. A fifth woman stands behind the table, smiling.

Keep an eye out for future public store tours on our What's On page and across our social media channels.