News

Conservation in progress

We are currently carrying out conservation work to the marble memorial wall and granite plinth in the museum.

Both the black marble memorial wall (sable de noir) and the granite plinth were made for the original War Memorial building which opened in 1963 on Waring Street. They were extracted and integrated into the museum on Talbot Street when we relocated in 2008.

In 2008 the Northern Ireland War Memorial was awarded a Royal Society of Ulster Architects award for the integration of the memorial wall and other artworks in the new museum.

The Northern Ireland War Memorial became an Accredited Museum in 2013.

 RL Conservation will treat the marble wall and granite plinth in August to address a number of issues which include:

  • unskilled historic repairs with synthetic resins
  • grout residue and scratches 
  • the high gloss finish which is distracting to viewers
  • handling dirt from daily use, incidental paint residue on plinth
  • residue from floor adhesives at base of plinth from original location in Waring Street

RL Conservation will clean the marble wall and granite plinth, address the issues above and apply a protective coating in a matte finish.

The museum will remain open while this important work takes place and we will try to keep disruption to a minimum.

Our conservator will be happy to answer any questions you have so call in and see the work in progress on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout August.

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Trustees of the Northern Ireland War Memorial travel to Bushmills to celebrate local artist James McKendry

Trustees of the Northern Ireland War Memorial travel to Bushmills to celebrate local artist James McKendry

Trustees and Staff of NIWM meet with James and Norri McKendry at the Bushmills Inn.

Staff and Trustees of the NIWM travelled to Bushmills on Thursday 5th September for their annual off-site board meeting, this year in the Bushmills Inn Hotel. They seized this opportunity to meet local artist, James McKendry, who was commissioned by the NIWM back in 1960 to create two large copper friezes for the original War Memorial building which opened on Waring Street Belfast in 1963. The copper friezes are 30 feet in length each and they are on display in the museum which relocated to Talbot Street in 2008. They are admired by approximately 11,000 visitors to the NIWM every year.

Copper frieze by James McKendry

The upper frieze records the presence of the United States military in Northern Ireland from 1942 to 1944.  US soldiers are shown training in the countryside in Northern Ireland under a 48-star US flag. The artist depicts airfields, the Causeway headlands, Port Moon Bay, a traditional Ulster five-bar farm gate and an Antrim round tower. The troops are shown progressing from left to right, disciplined and ordered, equipped with weapons and armaments, ready to embark for the Normandy landings. 

The lower frieze illustrates the war effort of men and women on the home front. Depicted left to right are farmers gathering flax and corn, a woman weaving, stone masons rebuilding Belfast after the air raids, a barrage balloon tethered above a linen mill, a fishing boat, a shipbuilding crane, heavy engineering, a welder at work and a countryside scene which includes ‘the steeple’ in Antrim.

James and Norri McKendry with NIWM Chairman Ian Wilson

McKendry’s internationally acclaimed work can be found in corporate and private collections around the world, including that of the Duke of Edinburgh.  McKendry has executed many commissioned murals and sculptures for churches and public buildings in Ireland and abroad. McKendry is now retired and lives in Bushmills with his wife Norri.

In 2018 the NIWM interviewed James McKendry about the artwork he created and how the commission came about in 1960. This was done as part of the NIWM’s ongoing The War and Me oral history project which aims to interview people with wartime memories. James’s interview has now been transcribed and is available to researchers. James remains very proud of the friezes he made for the NIWM, which are to this day his largest works. He was honoured to attend this special event to celebrate his work.

Robert Quigg VC Memorial, Bushmills

Staff and Trustees of the NIWM were also joined by Leonard Quigg BEM and local historian Keith Beattie as they visited the Robert Quigg VC Memorial, which the NIWM gave grant assistance to in 2016.

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On this day- 3rd September 1939

On this day – 3rd September 1939

On this day, 3rd September 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain broadcast to the nation that war had been declared against Germany. That evening the Belfast Telegraph printed a special Sunday edition to carry the news.

Belfast Telegraph – Sunday 3rd September 1939

The Telegraph Building was later damaged in the Blitz in April/May 1941. To mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, NIWM held two walking tours around the Cathedral Quarter along streets destroyed by the Belfast Blitz on Tuesday 3rd September 2019.

If any one is interested in doing the tour, it has been designed so that it can be self-led and copies of the map are available from the museum.

NIWM Walking Tour 2019

All images courtesy and copyright of the Belfast Telegraph.

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Winning the war: Hurst, Film and Propaganda

Winning the war: Hurst, Film and Propaganda

To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, NIWM is screening the 1939 film The Lion Has Wings throughout the week beginning Monday 2nd September 2019.

The Lion Has Wings (1939) was directed by Belfast-born Brian Desmond Hurst. NIWM is working with the Brian Desmond Hurst Estate to highlight his films on conflict and the role of propaganda and film making during the Second World War. This is the first in a series of screenings planned to take place over the coming years.

NIWM have also produced a commemorative booklet about the production of The Lion Has Wings with Allan Esler Smith, great-nephew of Brian Desmond Hurst. The booklet will be available to all visitors and a digital copy can be downloaded below.

The Lion Has Wings was to be the first film output from British studios in the Second World War. It propelled recruitment into the Royal Air Force (RAF) and helped keep cinemas open when air raids threatened their closure.

During these events, NIWM will also display a small exhibition of original material from the estate of Brian Desmond Hurst.

The dates and times of the screenings are as below:

Monday 2nd September at 2pm

Tuesday 3rd September at 2.30pm

Wednesday 4th September at 1.40pm *Special Introduction* by Alderman Marion Smith and Bob Hurst, great niece and nephew of Brian Desmond Hurst, who will explain Hurst’s East Belfast roots, his journey to Hollywood via Gallipoli (with the Royal Irish Rifles) and his prolific war film output.

Thursday 5th September at 2pm

Friday 6th September at 2pm

Free Admission. Refreshments will be served.

The Lion Has Wings Trailer produced by Caitlin V Smith
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Object of the Month – August 2019

Object of the Month – August 2019

Wartime utility lighter that belonged to Captain Richard Pim

Our object of the month for August is a wartime utility lighter (NIWM:2011.700) that belonged to Captain Richard Pim.

After the declaration of war in September 1939, Pim, who had served with the Ulster Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) on-board HMS Caroline, asked to be released from his role as an adviser to the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Craigavon and made his way to the Admiralty in London.

He was directed to establish a map room for the new First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill.

In 2014, the Northern Ireland War Memorial published ‘Pim and Churchill’s Map Room’ which details Pim’s experiences as he worked for Churchill and accompanied him on his travels around the world, bringing the map room with him.

Pim and Churchill’s Map Room

For more information about Richard Pim or the other books we have published, visit the publications page on our website: www.niwarmemorial.org/publications/.

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Winning the War: Hurst, Film and Propaganda

Winning the War: Hurst, Film and Propaganda

To mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, NIWM are screening ‘The Lion Has Wings’ (73 mins approx.) throughout the week beginning 2nd September 2019. 

During these events we will also display a small exhibition of original material from the estate of Brian Desmond Hurst.

The dates and times of the screening are as below:
Monday 2nd Sept at 2pm
Tuesday 3rd Sept at 2.30pm

Wednesday 4th Sept at 1.40pm ✨Special Introduction✨
Special Introduction by Alderman Marion Smith and Bob Hurst, great niece and nephew of Brian Desmond Hurst, who will explain Hurst’s East Belfast roots, his journey to Hollywood via Gallipoli (with the Royal Irish Rifles) and his prolific war film output.

Thursday 5th Sept at 2pm
Friday 6th Sept at 2pm

Booking is not required but do let us know if you plan on bringing a large group.

Free Admission. Refreshments will be served.

More details about this event and other upcoming events can be found on our website:  http://www.niwarmemorial.org/events/

Promotion Video produced by Caitlin V Smith

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Object of the Month – July 2019

Object of the Month – July 2019

Following an observation that many Civil Defence posts and stations were decorated with drawings and paintings, the Ministry of Public Security announced in late 1942 that an exhibition of arts and crafts, produced by Civil Defence members, was to be held in the Belfast Museum and Art Gallery (now the Ulster Museum, Belfast). The Northern Ireland Civil Defence Exhibition of Arts and Crafts was then held annually, each spring, in the same venue until the end of the Second World War.

Our object of the month for July 2019 is a watercolour painting by Air Raid Warden, James D McCord who was stationed on the Cavehill Road. The Northern Ireland War Memorial holds other works by McCord, including a comic sketch of a Belfast ARP training exercise that is currently on display in our temporary display cases.

Although the area is much changed, can anyone guess what road in Belfast the watercolour depicts?

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We’re open this Saturday!

We’re open 12pm-4pm this Saturday 3rd August 2019. If you’re in Belfast, call in to learn about Northern Ireland during the Second World War.

  • Dress up in Second World War uniforms and helmets
  • Have a go at crafts and colouring in (make your own ration book, identity card or Spitfire)
  • Listen to wartime music
  • Weigh out a 2oz. helping of jelly babies to take home
  • Learn about the Belfast Blitz, gas masks, evacuees, the blackout and much more!

Free admission with fun activities for all ages

We’re on Talbot Street, just ring the buzzer

Northern Ireland War Memorial / 21 Talbot Street, Belfast, BT1 2LD

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Peace Day – 19th July

Peace Day – 19th July

Although the Armistice to end the fighting of the First World War was signed on 11th November 1918, the Treaty of Versailles that set out the peace terms between the Allied Powers and Germany was not signed until June 1919.

This is why some First World War memorials, such as that of the former North of Ireland Football Club (now held by NIWM) display the dates 1914-1919.

On this day, 19th July, in 1919 The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland marked the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the formal end of the First World War with a Bank and Public Holiday known as Peace Day.

The main celebrations took place in London and these included a victory parade of nearly 15,000 troops led by the Allied Commanders, a speech from King George V and the unveiling of a temporary monument in Whitehall to those who 
were killed and wounded (later replaced by a permanent stone monument in 1920 that still stands today).

It took a few more weeks for towns in Ireland to organise their own events but newspapers, such as the Larne Times reported on the Peace Day celebrations across the country under headlines such as ‘London Lets Itself Go’, ‘Joyous Day in Antrim’ and ‘Armagh’s Fine Display’.

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Live Well

Live Well is a National Museums NI community engagement project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and designed to connect disadvantaged older people with museums. In 2018 National Museums decided to partner with six local museums, including the NIWM, in the delivery of the project. Live Well is delivered as a six week programme, with five outreach sessions and a museum visit. The project is designed to use collections and creativity as the basis for active engagement with older audiences.

Find out all about our Learning and Outreach Assistant Michael Fryer’s experience below:

The project initially involved Michael observing the delivery of a Live Well programme in Highfield Community Centre based on the collection of the Ulster Folk Museum. Live Well was then delivered by Michael on behalf of NIWM across six weekly sessions in the Grove Day Centre on a Wednesday afternoon with a group of 12 older people.

Sessions were themed around the Home Front, the Belfast Blitz, the American presence and the experience of evacuees with objects from the NIWM’s collection being used to accompany each theme. Creative activities were also developed for the programme including notebook decoupage based on a Luftwaffe map of Belfast; copper work American stars with facilitator Tineke Kroes; and painting papier mache evacuees’ suitcases. In the penultimate week the group visited the NIWM for a tour of the museum followed by a wartime sing along event.

A full case study of Michael’s experience of Live well can be read on the Northern Ireland Museums Council website at: https://www.nimc.co.uk/what-we-do/case-studies-developing-audiences/

NIWM continues to offer talks and reminiscence sessions for community groups around the topic of the Home Front in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. More details can be found on our website at: http://www.niwarmemorial.org/outreach-and-group-visits/ / http://www.niwarmemorial.org/reminiscence/

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