After prolonged closures due to Coronavirus restrictions, North Down Museum in Bangor and Ards Arts Centre in Newtownards will reopen their doors to the public on Tuesday 25 May.
North Down Museum staff have been working hard behind the scenes to produce two new exhibitions for visitors to enjoy. Both exhibitions mark Northern Ireland’s Centenary year and are part of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s NI100 programme of activities.
‘NI100: Our Borough, Our People’ which can be viewed in the museum’s Community Gallery until Monday 30 August, explores local people who have made a national or international impact in their field over the past 100 years. Ards and North Down is home to a wealth of talent and this exhibition celebrates the achievements of individuals across eight different categories: – Arts, Entertainment, Leaders, Literature, Music, Science & Industry, Sports and Wartime.
‘NI Centenary: Local Leadership, National Impact’ which is open in the museum’s Long Gallery, examines the history of how Northern Ireland was established and puts it into the local context of the time.
The exhibition highlights many local people who were at the forefront of the unionist movement at the time, including Comber native, John Miller Andrews, who played a pivotal role in the opposition of Home Rule, establishing Northern Ireland and sitting in its first Government cabinet. This exhibition will run until Sunday 1 August.
Another welcome addition to the museum is the installation of a Laird’s Boat in the museum’s coffee shop. The beautifully restored boat which has been acquired by the Council now hangs from the ceiling of Coffee Cure where it will remain a permanent fixture for visitors to view.
Ards Arts Centre will host; ‘Fragments of Memory’ by Millie Moore in its Sunburst Gallery. The exhibition of paintings and charcoal drawings were made in response to reflections and memories of the artist’s daily walks. Last year, Millie visited and walked some ancient bogs in central Ireland and was reminded of Seamus Heaney’s observations and descriptive words on found bog bodies. In particular, she is interested in investigating what is hidden or sometimes revealed within the depths of a bogland.
Speaking about the re-openings, The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Trevor Cummings, said: “I am delighted to see North Down Museum and Ards Arts Centre reopening to visitors. I would encourage everyone to come and visit these venues and explore the arts and heritage experiences that they have on offer. The Museum’s NI100 exhibitions are fascinating and are a fantastic addition to our Centenary programme, well done to the staff who have worked on curating them.”
Ards and North Down Borough Council’s Arts and Heritage Manager, Emily Crawford also commented: “Arts, culture and heritage are so important for our creativity and sense of wellbeing and we cannot wait to welcome visitors back to North Down Museum and Ards Arts Centre. A series of one-off creative workshops will be taking place at Ards Arts Centre from early June to give visitors an opportunity to try their hand at a number of art and craft activities. Participants can try lessons in illustration, guitar playing, drawing and painting amongst others. With lots to see and do this summer, there’s plenty of opportunity to engage in arts and heritage.”
To ensure the safety of visitors and staff, a one-way system will be in operation at both venues and visitors will be encouraged to sanitise their hands at the provided sanitisation stations. Group sizes should be kept to a minimum and everyone will be encouraged to respect social distancing and wear a face covering when inside the buildings.
Both North Down Museum and Ards Arts Centre have been awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark, the UK-wide industry standard, managed locally by Tourism Northern Ireland, which signifies that tourism and hospitality businesses have implemented the appropriate procedures and health and safety measures, in line with government and industry guidelines, to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.
North Down Museum’s opening hours are: Tuesday – Saturday; 10am – 4pm and Sunday; 12noon – 4pm. Coffee Cure, the museum’s coffee shop will also open on the same date and will operate under the following opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 9am – 4pm and Sunday: 10m – 4pm.
Ards Arts Centre will be open: Tuesday -Friday; 10am – 4pm, Saturday: 10am – 1pm and late night Wednesday and Thursday 6.30 – 9.30pm.
Admission to both venues is free. For more information visit: https://andculture.org.uk/