Viking plunder, Egyptian mummies, whale skeletons, fossils, and more than 15,000 artworks, are just some of the items in the vast and eclectic collections of the fascinating Ulster museum. Exhibits focus on history, natural sciences, and art, with paintings, sculptures, costumes, and mixed-media works on display.
Most visitors explore the Ulster Museum independently, devoting time to the well-labeled exhibits that most pique their interest. History buffs can examine treasures recovered from the Girona shipwreck, part of the 1588 Spanish Armada, or explore more recent Northern Irish history in the Troubles Gallery, which documents a 30-year period of civil and political conflict in Northern Ireland that began in the late 1960s.
Children will enjoy an encounter with Peter the taxidermy polar bear—a former resident of Dublin Zoo—and the minke whale skeleton in the natural sciences exhibitions, while art lovers can browse galleries full of European and Northern Irish art. Many hop-on hop-off tour buses stop at the Ulster Museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Ulster Museum is a must for history buffs, science enthusiasts, art lovers, and families.
- The museum has free Wi-Fi, baby-changing facilities, a gift shop, and a cloakroom.
- Pick up a map at the welcome desk to help you find your way around.
- The Ulster Museum is wheelchair accessible, with lifts and ramps situated throughout the exhibition spaces.
How to Get There
The Ulster Museum is in Belfast’s Botanic Gardens in south Belfast. Walking from Belfast city center will take 25 to 30 minutes. The nearest rail station is Botanic Station, which is a 10-minute walk away. Metro bus routes 8a, 8b, 8c, and 8d depart from the city center and stop near the Botanic Gardens.
When to Get There
The Ulster Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and is usually busiest during weekend afternoons. To avoid the crowds, visit midweek or during the early morning hours on Saturday or Sunday.
Exploring Belfast Botanical Gardens
While you’re at the museum, allow some extra time to stroll around the surrounding Belfast Botanic Gardens. Now a public park, the site features a rose garden, the mid–19th-century Palm House greenhouse, and the Victorian-era Tropical Ravine, which houses tropical species, such as flowering vines, orchids, banana, and cinnamon plants.