Please note that the museum will be closed this coming bank holiday Monday.
We have however, devised a bank holiday reading list of our most recent publications which can be found on the above publications tab.
We will reopen as normal on Tuesday 31 May at 10.00 am.
For May 2016 the object of the month is a bronze statue that is currently the centre piece of our Belfast Blitz exhibition.
The bronze artwork was created by the distinguished sculptor, John Sherlock. His other work includes the life size sculptures of Harry Ferguson, who manufactured the Ferguson tractor, and Mary Peters, Northern Ireland’s Olympic gold medalist.
The half size bronze entitled ‘Blitz Survivors’ depicts a mother picking her way through the ruins of Belfast after the Blitz on the city on the night of 15/16 April 1941. There is a large pool of water on the cobbled stones at her feet, suggesting the presence of the firemen who travelled up from Dublin to attend to the fires caused by the raid. A copy of the morning’s Northern Whig newspaper lies among the wooden planks and depris behind the mother, its headline recording an estimated two hundred dead. In fact the figure currently is estimated at one thousand.
The mother and child are dressed in the period dresses worn by the women in the residential districts, which were so heavily bombed. The mother has her hair in rollers partially covered with a scarf, known as the ‘victory roll.’ The child is still clutching her teddy bear.
Why is it the Object of the Month?
The inclusion of this particular artwork in recent commemorative events to mark the 75th anniversary of the Belfast Blitz was significant. We not only remembered those that lived through the Blitz, but those that were lost as a result.
A special event took place in the gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial to commemorate the 75th anniversary at 12 noon on Friday 15th April 2016. Following a one minute of silence, a floral wreath was laid by Mrs Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast, on the bronze sculpture.
A small posy of flowers was also placed on the sculpture by the ‘Henry sisters’ in remembrance of their sister Suzie who was lost in the raid in 1941.
A note on the Belfast Blitz
Three air raids on Belfast were carried out by the Luftwaffe in 1941. The first raid on 7th/8th April 1941 by 8 bombers destroyed the aircraft fuselage factory and damaged the docks. The second raid on Easter Tuesday 15th /16th April 1941 by 180 bombers lasted 5 hours. 673 bombs and 29,000 incendiaries fell mainly on residential areas in the docklands. The third raid on 4th /5th May 1941 by 204 bombers lasted 3 hours. The results were devastating. One thousand people died and half the housing stock was damaged.
Saturday 21st May 10am – 2pm
Visit the War Memorial Museum on Drawing Day to take part in a day of creativity inspired by our Second World War collection. Discover more about the Belfast Blitz, the Home Front in Northern Ireland, American GI’s, and the contemporary art pieces in the museum. Pick up a pencil and draw – and then share your art on our Facebook page.
Chalk and colouring pencils will be provided, with drawing activities to suit all. You can join in at any time between 10am and 2pm on the day, and stay for as long or short as you want.
People of all ages can join in, listening to 1940s music and playing with 1940s toys and board games.
No experience or booking required. Free admission.
The museum will be closed for the bank holiday on Monday 2 May 2016 however will reopen as normal on Tuesday 3 May at 10.00 am.
A History Ireland Hedge School
At The Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum, 21 Talbot Street, Belfast BT1 2LD, Thursday 5 May at 7pm
While public attention has naturally been focused this year on the centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, April and May also marks the 75th anniversary of what former air raid warden, Jimmy Doherty described as ‘the most disastrous event in the history of the city’ — the Belfast Blitz. On the night of 15/16 April 1941 German bombs fell on the densely populated working class terraces of north Belfast, killing 740 civilians (Catholics and Protestants without discrimination). No other city in the United Kingdom, save London, lost so many in one night’s raid. Neutral Ireland did not stand idly by; firemen from Dundalk, Drogheda and Dublin responded to the call for assistance. Three weeks later, on the night of 4/5 May, another 190 civilians were killed in air raids on the city’s industrial heart in the docks area. Adding military casualties to these figures, well over 1,000 died; half the city’s housing stock was destroyed; c. 50,000 were left homeless; and by the end of May an estimated 220,000 (half the city’s population) had been evacuated, such was the atmosphere of panic and fear.
Join History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, for a Hedge School (a lively round table discussion) with Brian Barton (The Blitz: Belfast in the War Years), Ciaran Elizabeth Doran (Curator Northern Ireland War Memorial), Michael Kennedy (RIA’s Documents on Irish Foreign Policy), and Peter Collins (St. Marys College).
Tickets available through Northern Ireland War Memorial, booking is essential as there is limited availability email@example.com, www.niwarmemorial.org, 0044 (0) 2890 320 392 ext. 4
7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags!
Find out the 7 themes of the 2016’s edition
Monday is dedicated to discovering your most well-kept secrets! Show a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your museum!
Tuesday is dedicated to honor the people – well known or anonymous – who have helped make your museum. Feature your founders, other icons, and current staff members and talk about their expertise!
Wednesday is about telling the story of your building(s), your garden(s), your neighborhood or other key locations for your institution. Introduce your museum from a different point of view!
On Thursday, focus on your tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Help your audience discover the variety of content your institution has on view, in storage or online!
On Friday, share your most innovative projects, your barriers to innovation, your research or your institutional goals, all of which can lead to a greater understanding of your future initiatives and developments!
Saturday zoom in on your content by sharing details and anecdotes that provide an interesting insight into your collection (e.g., images of hands or frames, anecdotes about the origins of a book…).
Sunday, time to share what you love about your place! Take advantage of this opportunity to promote your museum’s greatest attractions (art works, displays, rooms…) and use Twitter as a helping tool for the visit!
A new addition to the Collection of the Northern Ireland War Memorial is this ladies gas mask bag pictured above. The bag with gas mask enclosed was gifted to the museum along with a large piece of shrapnel that was salvaged after the Blitz on Belfast in 1941.
For more information on wartime gas mask bags, and wartime fashion more generally, visit the website for the Imperial War Museums at http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-clothes-rationing-affected-fashion-in-the-second-world-war
A recent exhibition at Imperial War Museum London ‘Fashion on the Ration’ told how the war changed what people wore both at work and at home. ‘By the outbreak of war in September 1939, over 40 million respirators had been distributed in Britain as a result of the potential threat of gas warfare. Although not compulsory, people were advised to carry their gas masks with them at all times. Usually they were issued in a cardboard box with a string threaded through so it could be carried over the shoulder. Retailers were quick to spot a gap in the market for a more attractive solution.’*
When: 16 April 2016, 10.30 am – 2.30 pm
Where: Gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial
What: A family open day at the museum where activities will have a Blitz theme.
When: 15 April 2016, 12.00 pm – 3.00 pm
Where: Gallery of the Northern Ireland War Memorial
What: This will be a commemorative event to which all are welcome to attend. Refreshments will be provided.
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