With such a lengthy history to its name, Belfast museums, art and culture are a wellspring of the people, stories and events that make up the city’s identity. From the work of local artists and writers both ancient and modern-day, to relics and artefacts salvaged from every point in Belfast’s often turbulent history, culture vultures will find that there’s much to see and many wonderful places to visit.
Luckily, almost all of the city’s major cultural centres are located quite close to one another, which means no matter where you stay in Belfast, you’re probably quite close to a museum or gallery.
Ulster Museum is Belfast’s largest and most popular museum and gallery, filled with hundreds of exhibits and artworks from the Emerald Isle and abroad. Originally established in 1929, it has been a fixture in the city ever since, dutifully collecting and recording its history for future generations and educating those here now on everything that came before.
One of Belfast’s grand old dames, the Grand Opera House Belfast is one of the finest surviving old-world theatres anywhere in the world. Opened in 1895 and renovated in 2006, the theatre is still operational today, home to regular productions, as well as restaurants and cafes on its ground and third floors. This is a must-visit for anyone with a love of the theatre.
The Ulster Folk Museum is really two museums in one. On one side you have the Ulster Folk Museum, which seeks to educate visitors on what traditional Celtic life in the area was like and the Irish traditions that survive today. On the other you have the Transport Museum, which chronicles the proliferation of transport in Northern Ireland. It also contains one of the most authoritative exhibits on the construction of the RMS Titanic in the world.
It’s difficult to escape the RMS Titanic in Belfast, so proud is the city of its creation of the ‘Unsinkable Ship’. The Titanic Quarter is the name given to the dry dock area where the ill-fated ocean liner was built, now a vibrant entertainment complex filled with museums, galleries, and film studios.
The SS Nomadic was a transfer vessel built originally to help ferry both mail and passengers from the White Star Line’s major vessels, the RMS Olympic and the RMS Titanic. Restored to her former glory in 2012 and placed on permanent display in what is believed to be the very dock she was built in, the SS Nomadic represents an important part of Belfast’s maritime history.