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National Irish museum of Ulster

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Revamped museum to reopen after three years under wraps
National Irish museum of Ulster
A unique Triceratops model turned heads in Belfast as it was delivered to the Ulster Museum before the landmark reopening this Thursday 22nd October 09. The Triceratops surprised shoppers in Belfast City centre by stopping at Belfast City Hall, before making another appearance at Queens University. Local people were amazed to see this unusual character travel through the city before entering the museum.

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Revamped museum to reopen after three years under wraps
By Marie Louise McCrory
Imagine a museum where patrons can handle the objects on show. Well, anyone visiting the new-look Ulster Museum in Belfast from tomorrow will be afforded that unusual opportunity thanks to a £17 million renovation project.
A complete revamp of the museum, which was originally opened to the public in 1929, has seen the landmark venue literally opened up to the public, with new discovery zones where visitors of all ages can enjoy a hands-on experience.

From building a stone-age tomb to working on a sun dial and from bird-watching to using the microscope to examine a whole new world, the Ulster Museum has gone interactive as it celebrates its 80th year.
Those visiting the museum will be welcomed into an airy 23ft high atrium area, which is connected to bright polished walkways.
Spread across four levels, visitors can take time to walk around three new zones entitled History, Art and Nature.
A huge steel tower entitled a ‘Window on Our World’ gallery showcases some key displays including skeletons of a triceratop and a edmontosaurus as well as a totem pole and a gown by legendary designer Alexander McQueen.
As well as the old favourites including Peter The Polar Bear and the Chambers car, visitors will be able to view never before seen exhibits, including the first reconstruction of the Giant Deer ever to be displayed in Ireland and a Minke Whale skeleton.
And, those visiting the new museum will also be able to view never before seen collections of Belleek, ceramic, glass, sculpture and jewellery.
In the History Zone visitors can learn all about the Spanish Armada, while in the Nature Zone, a series of galleries explain the Ice Age, Earth’s Treasures, Living World and the Sea Around Us.
Visitors can also view an Emperor Penguin brought back to Ireland in the 19th century by legendary polar explorer Captain Francis Crozier.
The Art Zone is opening with an exhibition by ­abstract Irish artist Sean Scully across its nine adjoining galleries.
The exhibition, entitled ‘Constantinople or the Sensual Concealed: The Imagery of Sean Scully’, will run until February.
Visitors will also be able to spend some time with the Egyptian mummy Takabuti, which forms the centrepiece of the new gallery.

Tim Cooke, director of National Museums the north of Ireland, said he believed the new-look Ulster Museum would “make a substantial contribution to the north of Ireland’s cultural and tourism sectors”.
“The Ulster Museum’s rejuvenation has been radical and deliberate, designed not just to improve and develop the building, galleries and visitor galleries but also to allow new ways of exploring the collections and engaging with learning while offering both space and activity for reflection and creativity, he said.
“The new Discovery Zones will allow the Ulster Museum to play a greater role in learning for all ages.”

Dr Jim McGreevy, director of collections and interpretation for National Museums the north of Ireland, said the idea behind the renovation project was to “open up the museum”.

Dr McGreevy said it was hoped the way objects were being displayed and the “closeness” between the objects and visitors would be inviting”.

n The Ulster Museum will open to the public tomorrow at 11.30am. Admission is free.

Museum re-opens after £17m facelift
The Ulster Museum reopens following the completion of a major £17 million landmark rejuvenation project
THE mummy has returned – now with a face – the dinosaurs are running amok and excitement is mounting as the public waits to get its first glimpse of the refurbished Ulster Museum tomorrow.
The much-loved institution will finally officially reopen after a £17.2 million, three-year redesign and redecoration, 80 years to the day of the original 1929 opening.

Staff showed off the new-look museum in a sneak preview for dignitaries and the media yesterday, and it is by any measure a stunning transformation.

Gone is all the oppressive, utilitarian 1970s grey concrete, replaced with a huge, bright, open central 'Welcome Zone' overlooked by airy walkways that connect to every display area.

The whole effect gives the visitor a sense of light and space, and has been described as cutting-edge design, up there with the leading avante garde galleries and museums in major European cities like Berlin and Barcelona, here in little old Belfast.

While the striking building allows more of the museum's extensive collections to be put on display in modern surroundings, items known and loved by generations maintain the link with the past.

The 2,700-year-old mummy Takabuti is back as has been widely publicised, and is now more of a celebrity than ever.

Since the museum closed, she has been the star of a TV programme that showed the reconstruction of her face as it would have been in life.

Takabuti is now recognised as one of the best-preserved mummies on public display anywhere, and the museum has tried to ensure the continuity of her fascination for generations of youngsters.

It first unveiled her 'new' face in front of an audience of wide-eyed school children.

She is now housed in her own gallery, next to an extensive display showing the level of civilisation in Ireland at the time she was alive.

The massive head hunters' canoe from the Solomon Islands is still the centre of a display on cultures and rites of passage. This exhibition is right up to date, with a section on the Polish community which has recently become such an accepted part of society here.

Spanning four levels and visible from every direction including above and below is the 'Window on our World' display which contains iconic objects from across the museum's collection, including Peter the Polar Bear, the Belfast-built Chambers Car and the Stegosaurus and Edmontosaurus skeletons.

An audio-visual display of the various dinosaurs, including the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex is also shown at intervals on the pristine white walls around the display.

But be warned, this is not for the faint-hearted as the skeletal depictions of the prehistoric monsters stomp and roar their way over an ancient landscape.

The Armada display, always a firm favourite and a testimony to amateur local endeavour, is also visually stunning, with the more items from the wreck of the Girona on view than ever before.

The Ulster Museum, is open from 11.30am to 10pm tomorrow.

After that its opening hours will be Tuesday to Sundays 10am to 6pm until November 1st. From November 3, it will open 10am to 5pm. The museum will be closed on all Mondays. Admittance is free.

Takabuti (The Egyptian Mummy) lived during the 25th dynasty c660BC. She came to the museum in 1834 and was unwrapped in February 1835. She is located in the Life & Death of Ancient Egypt Gallery(13).

The mummy of the lady Takabuti and her case represent the Egyptian collection of some 2000 objects. She was a married lady of about thirty years of age and she lived in the important city of Thebes at the end of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty.

Takabuti and her case
The Egyptian mummy Takabuti and her case were brought back from Thebes by Mr Thomas Greg of Ballymenoch House, Holywood. Her arrival was eagerly awaited by the members of the Belfast Natural History & Philosophical Society, whose museum in College Square North was to be her new resting place.

As was the custom of the day, she was unwrapped on 27 January 1835 in front of specially invited members of the Society. In attendance were medical men and the celebrated Rev. Dr Edward Hincks who was rector of Killyleagh Parish Church for forty years. He was an expert in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform writing.

He was able to tell the assembled company that her name was Takabuti and that she was a married woman of between 20 and 30 years of age and the mistress of a great house. Her father was a priest of Amun and was called Nespare, while her mother was called Tasenirit. The excellent degree of mummification and the fact that she had been buried in the large cemetery on the Western side of Thebes showed that she was a woman of wealth and importance. Her burial took place at the end of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty, c660 BC. Her little cape of faience beads was the burial fashion at this date. When she was re-wrapped, her face, arm and foot were left uncovered and she has remained this way ever since.

The local newspapers told the general public that they could first see Takabuti on 30 and 31 January and on 2, 4 and 6 February. She was a sensation and it is recorded that, at Easter 1835, the large public crowds never tired of inspecting her. Her fascination for visitors has never waned and today she is well known as the noble representative of a great ancient civilisation.

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