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Touring Exhibitions: National Museums Northern Ireland

National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) offers a range of touring exhibitions, which are available to local museums.

The exhibitions are currently free to borrow, but borrowing institutions are expected to arrange and cover the costs of transport, installation and insurance.

All exhibitions come with interpretation, though there is some variation between exhibitions and elements can be tailored to suit particular museums.

All exhibitions are scalable, and can be enhanced by additions from your own collections, if appropriate.

Exhibitions available for 2017 include:

Framed: People and Place in Irish Photography

This exhibition offers a range of images drawn from NMNI’s rich collections of historic photographs, to illustrate the development of photography in Ireland from the 1850s to the end of the twentieth century. By emphasizing the themes of people and place, it also illustrates the emergence over time of a distinctly ‘Irish’ genre of public photography. 

Art of the Liner: The Work of Kenneth Shoesmith (1890-1939)

This exhibition showcases the important work of Kenneth Denton Shoesmith by displaying 30 works from the Ulster Museum’s collection. The exhibition includes drawings, oil paintings, watercolours and prints that show Shoesmith’s unique talent for recording ships and the world they sailed around.


The Ulster Museum’s Elements exhibition has inspired a touring younger sibling. From Actinium to Zirconium, this exhibition takes you on a journey along the periodic table, from the rocks beneath your feet to the most distant and ancient reaches of the Universe. The curator of the exhibition, Dr Mike Simms, will work with you to select additional objects from your collections.

A Step in Time: The Story of Irish Dance

This exhibition is stepping out from the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, with a touring exhibition that can help awaken memories of dance in your local area. The exhibition charts the history of Irish dance from the late 1800s to present day, through costume, embroidery, images and film. The curator of the exhibition, Valerie Wilson, will work with you to select additional objects and stories from your collections and local communities.

Out of the Shadows: Capturing the World of the Forgotten Naturalist, John Templeton (1766-1825)

This exhibition is based on diaries written by the naturalist John Templeton, between 1806 and 1825. It marks the 250th anniversary of his birth, and brings to light the extraordinary breadth and historical significance of the diaries, which are explored and re-interpreted through recent photography by Patricia Pyne, the curator of the exhibition.

From Here to the White House: Presidential Portraits by Frank McKelvey

Many American Presidents claim ancestral links to Ulster. This exhibition of original drawings, made around 1930 by Belfast artist Frank McKelvey (1895-1974), focusses on eleven of them. Although not drawn from live models, they do capture something of the character and personality of the subjects, and offer an interesting insight into a growing awareness of Ulster’s contributions to early American politics.

Street Life: Works by Belfast Photographer Martin Nangle 1973-1989

Martin Nangle’s photographs provide a remarkably evocative record of life during turbulent times in Belfast.  He worked as a photo-journalist and had a particular interest in the relationship between place, culture and identity and how this can be recorded and explored visually. The Ulster Museum recently acquired a collection of his work as part of a new initiative called ‘Collecting the Troubles and Beyond’ which involves both contemporary collecting and an associated programme of activities.

The Art of History: Watercolours of Irish Town Life in the 1820s by Sampson Towgood Roch (1757-1847)

This exhibition features watercolours selected from a sketch book by the noted Irish painter of portrait miniatures, Sampson Towgood Roch. They date from c.1824 and provide a fascinating insight into the life of ordinary people in an urban setting in pre-famine Ireland. The exhibition can be complemented by additional objects from your collections, which relate to the scenes depicted in the sketch book.

Native, Visitor, or Invader?

Explore the ‘biotic invasion’ of Ireland’s animal and plant life with this exhibition looking at biodiversity in the context of native, introduced, visiting and invading species, pests, ecology and genetic pollution. The exhibition is drawn from the taxidermy collections held by National Museums Northern Ireland.

Through the Eye of a Needle

This exhibition honours the humble sewing needle and all its creations, with beautiful examples of lace, embroidery, quilting and costume.

For more information please contact Hannah Crowdy, Interpretation Manager, National Museums Northern Ireland:

028 9039 5161


Join the Accreditation Committee

Do you want to help UK museums develop? Are you a mid-career or senior museum professional in the UK willing to work with like-minded peers to drive forward museum standards?

The Accreditation Partners are seeking to recruit five new members of the Museums Accreditation Committee to take up positions for an initial three year term from October 2016.

In terms of balance, we are currently particularly seeking museum professionals with experience of working in museums in Northern Ireland as well as people with experience gained from mid and senior roles within independent, university, military and National museums. In terms of time commitment, Committee members will spend around four days per year in Accreditation meetings and will need to read papers in advance.

For full information and an application form for this voluntary position, go to

Deadline for applications 2 September 2016.


New Publication from the Northern Ireland War Memorial

A Nurse in the Belfast Blitz: The Diary of Emma Duffin 1939-42 by Trevor Parkhill

The Blitz on Belfast, 75 years ago, in April 1941 is without doubt the single most traumatic single event in the city's long and often troubled history. Emma Duffin's eye-witness account of the devastating raid and its aftermath are vividly evident in her graphic and extensive diary entries, now published by the Northern Ireland War Memorial as A Nurse in the Belfast Blitz.

Her description of a journey through the city centre to north Belfast, which had borne the brunt of the raid, confirms the devastating extent of an aerial raid which left hundreds dead and thousands of houses destroyed. Equally gripping is her account of a gruelling day spent in St George's market, where she helped grief stricken families identify loved ones from the laid out, often mangled, corpses.

A native of the city, Emma was Commandant of the Voluntary Aid Detachment unit based at Stranmillis Military Hospital. Her account is even more authoritative because of her experiences in the First World War where she had been a VAD nurse in Egypt and northern France, for which sterling service (1915-19) she was mentioned in dispatches. In France, she recalled, as she struggled to come to terms with her gruesome role in St George's market, 'I had seen many dead but they had died in hospital beds, their eyes had been reverently closed, their hands crossed on their breasts; death had been glossed over, made decent. Here it was grotesque, repulsive and horrible. Death should be dignified, peaceful. Hitler had made even death grotesque'. 

Born in 1883, Emma lived until the age of 95, dying in 1979. Her mother had been a founder member of the Belfast Council of Social Welfare and Emma continued the Duffin family's public service tradition, serving as Honorary Secretary from 1933 to 1953, when she concerned herself primarily with the welfare of women and children. She was awarded an Honorary Master of the Arts by Queen's University in 1954.

Emma Duffin's diary, amounting to some 138 closely-written manuscript pages in one volume, is held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast.  It has been transcribed and is represented in A Nurse in the Belfast Blitz, almost exactly as it was written.

To facilitate accessibility, the text has been divided into five chapters, each with a short contextual introduction by the editor, Trevor Parkhill.  Where possible, extra information is given in footnotes about events and family members mentioned in the text.

The book has been illustrated with objects from the Northern Ireland War Memorial collection and Inver Museum Collection of St John Ambulance Memorabilia.

Photographs from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph, Queen’s University Belfast, and Stranmillis University College Belfast, illumine and enhance the text.  Expertly designed by Professor John McMillan, the book is accessible and reader –friendly, featuring a map illustrating Emma’s route through Belfast on the day after the Easter Tuesday air raid in 1941.

A Nurse in the Belfast Blitz is available to buy in the War Memorial gallery priced at £10.

Alternatively you can purchase a copy on or by completing a postal order form (download from the Publications tab on NIWM website

Contact for further information:

Jenny Haslett        

NIWM Education/Publications Officer

028 9032 0392 (Option 3)


  • NIMC is moving

    31 July 2015

    After 12 years at Crescent Gardens in Belfast, NIMC is relocating its offices to Cultra at the beginning of August. We shall be moving at the end of next week and the new office will be fully operational from 10th August. NIMC will continue to use the same web and e-mail addresses and the telephone number is unchanged– 028 90 550215. Our new postal address will be: Northern Ireland Museums Council 153 Bangor Road Holywood Co Down BT18 0EU

    More details »

  • Heritage Lottery Fund grants £2.37 million to Enniskillen Castle image

    Heritage Lottery Fund grants £2.37 million to Enniskillen Castle

    03 December 2014

    Enniskillen Castle is to be transformed into a world class heritage attraction, thanks to a £2.37million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

    More details »

  • National Museums, Northern Ireland awarded £370 for 'Collecting the Troubles and beyond by HLF

    03 December 2014

    NMNI are one of a number of UK museums to recieve the Heritage Lottery Fund Collecting Cultures grant which allows curators to go shopping.

    More details »

  • £11.5M Lottery Grant To Transform the HMS Caroline image

    £11.5M Lottery Grant To Transform the HMS Caroline

    03 December 2014

    HMS Caroline, the last surviving vessel which fought in the 1916 Battle of Jutland is to be transformed into a museum with a £11.5m grant from the HLF.

    More details »

  • IMA Forums: Industrial and Working Collections

    06 October 2014

    The IMA Forum: Industrial and Working Collections will be held at the Guinness Storehouse on Monday 6 October 2014.

    More details »

  • Appointment of a Chair of the Museum Accreditation Committee

    05 September 2014

    Arts Council England are looking to appoint a chair to lead the Museum Accreditation Committee who can bring recent and extensive experience of museum management at a senior level and a broad understanding of the role and purpose of museums.

    More details »

  • Collections Trust launches Going Digital Conference

    01 September 2014

    A new one-day conference to help museums improve their basic use of computers and the Internet has been launched by the Collections Trust as part of its major Going Digital Programme, which is supported by Arts Council England.

    More details »

  • Historic Royal Palaces appoints Head of Hillsborough Castle

    01 September 2014

    Historic Royal Palaces has appointed Patricia Corbett as Head of Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity also responsible for the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Banqueting House and Kew Palace, took over the management of Hillsborough Castle from the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) in April.

    More details »

  • Exciting new community engagement project at Mid-Antrim Museums Service  image

    Exciting new community engagement project at Mid-Antrim Museums Service

    19 August 2014

    The importance of built heritage, history and their connected stories is significant in regional identity. The way we see these sites and landmarks can instil a sense of place in a community and individual locality.

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  • Accreditation for Carrickfergus Museums  image

    Accreditation for Carrickfergus Museums

    13 August 2014

    Carrickfergus Museum, located at Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre and the Andrew Jackson Cottage and US Rangers Centre have both been awarded Full Accreditation in July 2014. Further information on both museums can be found at A new learning programme involving a Walking Tour of Medieval Carrick was piloted by Carrickfergus Museum earlier this year and will be one of the presentation's at NIMC's 'Spilling the Beans' event on 23rd Sept in the Somme Heritage Centre. Full details of this event are available at

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  • Welcome for President Higgins to Armagh Public Library  image

    Welcome for President Higgins to Armagh Public Library

    12 August 2014

    The Very Revd Gregory Dunstan, Keeper of Armagh Public Library, welcomed President and Mrs Higgins to Armagh Public Library on the final part of their visit to Armagh. Archbishop Richard Clarke, as Chairman of the Library's Governors and Guardians, met the President in the Library's Long Room, along with Library staff and volunteers.  

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  • Spilling the Beans - 23rd Sept 2014  image

    Spilling the Beans - 23rd Sept 2014

    06 August 2014

    This free session at the Somme Heritage Centre will be an opportunity to hear from four speakers on a range of local museum projects, highlighting achievements and sharing 'tales of the unexpected.' There will be a chance to network, build partnerships and discuss new ideas and activities which you can take back to your own museum.

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  • Museums, Money and Medals Network

    05 August 2014

    The Museums, Money and Medals Network is an Arts Council funded project that exists to build and develop relationships between UK museums with coin, medal and banknote collections. Many local museums face a problem in this field in that there are very few specialist curators with in-depth knowledge working with these collections at the moment. This project seeks to address this by encouraging people to work together on a regional as well as national level to share knowledge and expertise.

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  • Milford House Museum Acquires RSA Paintngs  image

    Milford House Museum Acquires RSA Paintngs

    18 July 2014

    Milford House Museum is delighted to announce the acquisition of four old master studio paintings from Royal Scottish Academy.  In 2011 Milford Buildings Preservation Trust the governing body of Milford House Museum expressed interest in acquiring the paintings which Royal Scottish Academy were disposing of as part of deaccessioning process  to rationalise their collection.  However as Milford House Museum was at that time a provisionally accredited museum, Royal Scottish Academy generously offered the paintings on long-term loan until such times as Milford House Museum received full Accreditation and then they would be gifted to the Trust.

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  • Museums awarded Full Accreditation

    12 March 2014

    Congratulations to the following local museums who have been awarded the status of Full Accreditation on 6th March 2014 - Newry & Mourne Museum, Fermanagh County Museum, North Down Museum, The F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio, The Inniskillings Museum, The Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum and The Royal Ulster Rifles Museum.

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