Our Museums

the troubles and beyond

Northern Irish society is more divided than most other places, so the way in which our museums develop, display and interpret their collections will inevitably be the subject of much discussion and debate.

Original photographic print showing a boy leaping off a burnt-out car at Divis Flats

People have a right to question things. Why this and not that? Why here and not there? Why him and not her? In fact, our museums ought to welcome questions, discussions and challenges. They should be shared and trusted spaces to have those conversations.

National Museums NI welcomes these conversations, however difficult they may be at times. We do this because our collection is a unique asset and learning resource that allows us not only to reflect on the past, but also on our shared future. A museum isn’t an omniscient voice, it’s an enabler of thought and debate. We encourage people to consider diverse perspectives on culture, history and society. We promote understanding, respect and empathy. This isn’t easy, and that’s why we work with partners who bring additional knowledge, insight, networks and sensitivity to examine the legacy of the past in ways that help to create better understanding and a new narrative. This is a painstaking but ultimately rewarding process. However, museum practice is built on attributes such as care, patience, scholarship and the ability to see the bigger picture and the longer view. A museum should be a place for reflection, encouraging dialogue and building understanding.


Our commitment 

We view our work in this area as an ongoing process. To fulfil our role in society we must continue to develop our approach and increase our impact into the future. Our approach is underpinned by the following key principles: 

  • To recognise key aspects of the Troubles period and chart their development and evolution.
  • To provide context to the Troubles period by examining wider social, economic, and cultural activity and their interplay with the Troubles.
  • To allow a range of interpretations of, and from, the period to be displayed.
  • To facilitate reflection on our historical understanding of the period, and commentary on the exhibition.
  • To engage with a wide range of communities and constituencies in Northern Ireland and beyond.
  • To incorporate information drawn from scholarship and apply best museological practice.