Described as the "mother museum" of Northern Ireland, it has a vast array of material; collections include fine and decorative art, archaeology and ethnography, botany, zoology and geology, local history and technology. The local history galleries illustrate political, social and industrial history in Ulster since 1600, everything from maps to coins and medals. The engineering hall has an impressive display of large steam engines and waterwheels as well as machinery once used in the linen industry. The "Made in Belfast" gallery has products made in the city over the past 100 years, from bricks and rope to bicycles and aircraft. The extensive archaeological collections have material from century 7000 BC to the late 17th century, while most of the material from the Spanish Armada ships that were wrecked off the Irish coast is displayed here.
The impressive fine art collection has a wonderfully representative collection of Irish painting and sculpture from the late 17th century to the present day. With such a vast range of collections and material assembled since 1831, the museum merits a full day's visit. Frequent exhibitions are held during the year.
Botanic Gardens, Belfast BT9 5AB.
Train to Botanic station, buses from City Hall, Donegall Square East.
Tel. (028) 90668251.