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The Ulster Museum: Is It A Treasure Or A Reaction To Its Turbulent Past?

2680 words - 11 pages

Introduction pg. 2
Historical background of the Ulster Museum pg. 2
Context pg. 4
Description of spaces pg. 5
The Potential step forward pg. 5
Conclusion pg. 6
Bibliography pg. 7
Books pg. 7
Journals pg. 7
Internet pg. 7

This museum has been in transition at pivotal points of its historical time line thus far. It begs the question though, does it work as an architectural treasure of Northern Ireland or is it a reaction to turbulent periods in Belfast’s history. Within this critique it is hoped that it can be proven that this museum has gone from a prestigious neoclassical style building standing alone on the southern edge of the botanic garden, to an embracing contextural architectural element that is trying to make a correlation with is surroundings. It’s this embrace of the public however with the recently new redevelopment has taken the true architectural meaning and integrity of Wynnes neoclassical block that integrates with Pym’s brutalist modern style.
The new addition of glazing to the gallery and café spaces designed by Hamilton architects has marred the beauty of this integration is slowly striping away from its concrete block. The ulster museum is considered as one of the best examples of two styles fusing together as one architectural expression. The ulster museum is at another pivotal point where it has to make a decision to place capital gains over the true architectural integrity brutalist forms paired with neoclassical style.
Historical background of the Ulster Museum
The First Age
Originally the Ulster Museum was founded as the Belfast Natural History Society in 1821 and began exhibiting art works in 1833. Since 1890 an art gallery has exhibited art works to the present day at the Rugby Street location, originally it was known the Belfast Municipal Museum and Art Gallery. The new building was designed by James Cumming Wynne a Scottish architect who won the commission which attracted 69 entries and was assessed by John Burnet of Glasgow to design the new municipal museum as it was known at the time in 1914. Just to note at the time Burnet was making his own additions to the British Museum consisting of large French ‘Beaux- Arts’ ionic colonnade. This being the influential precedence in Wynnes architectural approach in the design of Belfast Municipal Museum and Art Gallery, standing at its present location in Stranmillis.
The breakout of the First World War in 1919 hindered and delayed construction of the new museum. Due to this delay by 1929 only one wing of the museum designed by Wynnes large scheme was completed. This U shaped 3 storey neoclassical building monumentally overlooking botanic gardens and majestically elevates towards Stranmillis stood unfinished until the 1960’s and making no correlation to its immediate context. The material used in the construction of the...

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