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2020s Collection Highlights

Inclusive Global Histories, Against the Image and Reimagine Remake Replay

UM50 2020s cover

2022 marks fifty years since the white stone of the old Municipal Museum and Art Gallery was fused with smooth grey concrete to create the iconic Ulster Museum building that stands today. 

Our Ulster Museum 50 Collection Highlights series has outlined some of the objects, stories and moments from the Museum’s past five decades. The museum has always provided a platform for bold new perspectives, and to mark the 50th Anniversary, this year we welcomed three new exhibitions that embodied this enduring spirit.  

Inclusive Global Histories

Diverse voices and perspectives are shaping the museum’s future. The Inclusive Global Histories exhibition is leading our journey towards decolonisation, diversity and inclusion. 

Through this exhibition, Ulster Museum is re-evaluating its World Cultures collection with hopes of better understanding the complex stories of 4,500 global items. The project asks how and why these objects came to be in Northern Ireland, the ways in which they connect to our audiences, and what options there might be for them in the future.  

Working in partnership with others, we are re-examining our collections and sites, and seeking to address racism and exclusionary practices. We will highlight and redress the injustices of the past and face up to uncomfortable truths. We acknowledge we have much further to go, but we must start somewhere. 

An ongoing aspect of the project is building partnerships with local and global communities who help to inform the museum about specific objects from the World Cultures collection through their own perspective and lived experiences. 

As part of the project, in July, the museum hosted a Musical Global Histories event in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast. The event saw Belfast Zimbabwean musician, Agrippa Njanjina play an mbira that he recently donated to the museum collection; Roberta Bacic from Conflict Textiles then introduced La Cueca Sola / ‘Dancing Cueca Alone’ arpillera to which charango player, Victor Henriquez provided a musical response.

La Cueca Sola
La Cueca Sola, credit: Conflict Textiles

Clips from all three performances can be enjoyed on our YouTube channel.

Figure 1: Agrippa Njanjina, now Ulster Museum’s Community Engagement Officer, performs on his Mbira at Ulster Museum

Against the Image

In collaboration with Belfast Photo Festival 2022, Against the Image examined the authority of the photograph in our era of mass media and mass (mis)information. The exhibition encourages the viewer to reflect on how we absorb media in our daily lives. Is what we see really the reality? 

The exhibition displayed photographs from both local and global contexts. One of the artists featured in the exhibition was Victor Sloan, a Belfast Troubles artist who used photo manipulation to demonstrate challenges in the subjective nature of photography. 

Figure 3: Victor Sloan's Art in Against the Image
Figure 2: Victor Sloan's Art in Against the Image

Against the image also exhibited responses from the ‘Now You See Me Mória’ social media campaign. The project was started by Amir, a young Afghan refugee in Mória, and Noemí, a Spanish image editor.  

To make Europeans more aware of the inhumane situation in Mória refugee camp, Amir and Noemí launched an Instagram account sharing photographs of daily life in the camp taken by Amir and other refugees.  

Designers were invited to create posters with these images in order to tackle the lack of information on the camp and raise awareness around the plight of refugees. The project grew quickly, with over 500 posters being made, shining a light on the crisis and igniting a viral, global project that encouraged public participation. 

A selection of 72 posters were on display at the Ulster Museum. You can view these posters on our YouTube channel here.

Reimagine Remake Replay

Reimagine Remake Replay was a 4-year long creative programme that aimed to connect young people with heritage through creative media and digital technologies. 

To conclude the project, the young people who participated in RRR engaged in a co-creation process which led to the Reimagine Remake Replay exhibition at Ulster Museum. 

This unique partnership was led by Nerve Centre, National Museums NI, Northern Ireland Museums Council and Northern Ireland Screen, and was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Kick the Dust programme. 

One of the exhibition's key themes was to ensure it was accessible to everyone, and for the first time at Ulster Museum, a costumed mannequin was displayed on a wheelchair. It was exhibited at the bottom of a new wheelchair access ramp, installed specifically for the exhibition.

Group of young people who worked on the RRR project
Figure 3: RRR Participants outside the Exhibition Entrance on Launch Night

So, there you have it, fifty years of the Ulster Museum has brought us to a place where we can look back with pride and look forward with ambition and intention. Our Ulster Museum 50 exhibitions are examples of how we continue to explore new conversations, broaden our dialogue to include new, inspiring voices, and make sense of our past with fresh perspectives on art, natural science and history. We’re here for enduring questions, timeless certainties and new inspiration. Here for masterpieces, dinosaurs, and archaeological treasures. Here for Ancient Ireland, Inclusive Global Histories and whatever the future may hold. We’re here for good.