Northern Ireland

City Hall exhibition reflects Belfast's contested history

Belfast City Hall with rainbow lighting
Image caption Belfast City Hall - at the heart of the city's life since 1906

A new £1.3m exhibition at Belfast's City Hall is designed to reflect the city's rich and contested history.

The iconic building dominates the centre of the city, and has been at the heart of civic life since its completion in 1906.

Political demonstrations, the Christmas market, countless weddings, Remembrance Day ceremonies, a giant Ferris wheel - the City Hall has seen them all.

At times, the building's primary purpose as a meeting place for the council seems almost an afterthought.

Image caption The exhibits reflect all shades of political opinion

The City Hall is already a popular tourist attraction, with regular guided tours, but the permanent exhibition will add something new.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The city has a contested history - Ulster Day, 1912

It traces Belfast's development from a hamlet by the River Farset to the vibrant 21st Century city of today.

Sixteen rooms, divided into six thematic zones, reflect all aspects of Belfast life, from its industrial heritage to the speech and manners of the people.

The exhibition, which combines elements of the City Council's memorabilia archive, is a direct response to an equality impact assessment.

Image caption One exhibit shows unionist opposition to Home Rule

All the council's political party's were united in support of the project, which aims to welcome all sections of the city's increasingly diverse community.

Image caption The exhibition includes the original table where Edward Carson and other unionist leaders signed the Ulster Covenant of 1912

Historic events, such as the United Irish Rebellion, and the Home Rule crisis and both world wars form an important part of the display.

Artefacts such as the table where unionist dignitaries signed the Ulster Covenant, and an ornate dresser intended for use on the Titanic are also on display.

Image caption Belfast was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888

Visitors can call into reception in the City Hall to book a slot, or call ahead on 028 9027 0456.

Entry is free for individuals but there is a charge for commercial group bookings.

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