Our Museums



Research is the foundation for everything that we do.

Our research spans a range of disciplines, including collection management, conservation science, education, and audience & programming development. To submit a research request please contact our Research Manager, Dr. Sarah Baccianti.

Through interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships, our research projects bring together specialists from museums, higher education institutions and industrial partners; and with the increasing knowledge and understanding about the specimens in our care, we can inspire and engage audiences in a range of different ways. Our research is underpinned by National Museums NI Collections Research Policy which ensures our commitment to fulfil our statutory obligations under Article 4 (1) of the Museums & Galleries (Northern Ireland) Order 1998.

Ulster Folk Museum Costume & Textiles Collection

Our Folk Museum Costume and Textiles collection is currently closed to external researchers while we complete a new storage project, which will help to safeguard this significant collection and ensure greater accessibility in the longer term. We will therefore not be able to consider research requests to physically access the collection until spring 2024.

Research Priorities 

We have an extensive, significant collections across the disciplines of History, Art and Natural Sciences. Our organisational research priorities reflect the strengths of these collections and align with the ambitions and commitments outlined in National Museums NI’s Corporate Strategy 2021-5. Whilst research activity will not be limited to these priorities, particular attention and resources will be devoted to them, and they will help inform decision making and act as a guide for those wishing to undertake research in partnership with us.

We are currently developing new research priorities in Conservation, Collection Management, Education, Audience & Programming Development which will be added to the National Museums NI Research Policy and this webpage in due course.

Troubles and Beyond. The civil and political conflict known as ‘the Troubles’ has dominated the history of Northern Ireland from the late 1960s. Taking in multiple perspectives, we seek to provide context to this period by examining political, social, economic, and cultural activity, and we consider the impact and legacy of the conflict today.

Industry and Innovation. From linen to ships, ejector seats to pneumatic tyres, we are interested in how industry and innovation in this place have transformed both economy and society, through successes and failures, growth and decline.

Cultural Diversity and Identity. Questions of who we are and how we express our identities are complex and can be contentious. In considering cultural diversity and identity, we look back across history and consider the beliefs, symbols, customs and prejudices that have shaped our past and our present.

Inclusive Global Histories. Our collections are simultaneously local and international, and through an inclusive approach to global histories and decolonisation we seek to bring marginalised voices to the fore and promote mutual respect and understanding.

Art and Ideas. Irish and International Art, both fine and applied, are the greatest strengths of our collection. Through ‘Art and Ideas’ we consider artistic expression and practice, both what has informed Irish and International Art and the influences they have had within the context of the wider development of Western Art.

Diversity in Art. National Museums NI has made a commitment to champion, inclusion, diversity and accessibility. For our Art collections this means recovering and celebrating those who have traditionally been overlooked, whether due to gender, race, sexuality, disability or class.

Troubles Art. We are interested in how artists have responded to the recent conflict and its legacy through their artistic practice, and how art offers unique avenues for exploring and reflecting upon the manifestations and impact of violence and of division in our society.

Understanding Environmental Change. Our natural environment is in crisis globally, threatened by climate change, pollution and habitat destruction, resulting in biodiversity loss. We seek to unlock the invaluable and irreplaceable information held in our Natural Sciences collections, to help advance understanding of environmental change and identify its potential mitigations.

Reconnecting with Nature. We are interested in how, through our collections, on-site wild places and environmental data sets, we can reconnect people with nature and encourage individual agency in recording, championing and protecting our natural world.

Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CPD)

We are pleased to support postgraduate research by participating in Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships and facilitating access to our collections, sites and staff expertise. Current and former collaborative doctoral researchers have been supported by external funders, such as Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and the Northern Bridge Consortium.

  • For an academic research project that would involve working with National Museums NI please contact the Research Manager no later than 2 months before the application deadline
  • PostDoc researchers and PhD students whose research involves accessing our collections/data please contact the department you are interested in working with.
  • Visitor researchers (with academic affiliation or independent scholars) wishing to access our collections/data please contact the department you are interested in or the Research Manager.
  • For placements taking place between September-December please get in touch by end of May.
  • For placements taking place between January-April please get in touch by end of September.
  • For placements taking place between May-August please get in touch by end of February.

All placements at National Museums NI:

  • must have clear links with our aims and objectives, as detailed in our Corporate Strategy
  • are arranged through academic organisations
  • last for an agreed period of time (1 day per week or up to 30 days; longer placements can be considered if part of the course requirements)


For student placements which are carried out at the request of an educational institution, travel expenses to and from the placement are expected to be covered by the student. Any travel to external sites can be reimbursed in line with our expenses policy.

Only students enrolled in higher education and with right to work in the UK are eligible for student placements.