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As we home educate, we use museums alot. We really enjoyed the Ulster Museum, and as an added plus, its free. they have pretty wide variety of exhibits, the basic fare you would expect from a museum, a dinsoaur statue, a mummy several works of art and so, as well as a number of items of Ulster's own history.
As we go for a children's day out though, my main interest is the family friendly activities, and there are an adequate amount. First, you get the treasure hunt map and stickers from the front desk. this really adds to teh fun for children as they search out each item, although after 2 trips we gave up and got help to find the salamnder. Then there is the toys room, dressing up clothes the children can try on , books and all sorts of toys from times gone by or different countries. Finally, there is the Natural History room with all kinds of hands on exhibits, a microscope, butterflies in cases, fossils they can touch, and even a window overlooking a huge bird feeding station.
If you do visit, please remember the museum is closed on Mondays.
The Ulster Museum is located just inside Botanic Gardens, in the Queens Quarter of Belfast. It can be easily reached with a 15 minute walk from the city centre, or alternatively you can get a bus, or even park your car (if you have one) in one of the nearby streets.
Recently refurbished and redesigned after nearly a 3 year closure, it is now back to retaining it's place as one of Northern Ireland's best museums, as well as being a local favourite.
First of all the design and interior architecture: There was a lot of coverage and hype surrounding it's re-opening, and it's easy to see why. It now feels much more dynamic, bright, and open plan. Walking in it's difficult not to be struck by the impressive new shape and layout.
But what about the actual content? In truth it hasn't changed a lot since 2007. Some new exhibits have been added (such as an ever changing Art Gallery on the top floor), but most remain the same. This isn't to say it's a bad thing - everyone who visits loves the old faithfuls.
Focus areas include natural history, local industrial history, dinosaurs and fossils, as well as some geology and archaeology. Exhibits range from the overtly visual to the more subtle. They are arranged in an easy to navigate way, and there are lifts to take the less able up to higher floors.
While hardly competing to be one of the best museums in the world, it is very likeable as a brief stop on a wider tour of Belfast - especially if it's a wet day (and it often is). Entry is free, photography is permitted except in the art gallery, and there is enough to keep all ages interested for at least an hour or two.