Northern Ireland

Derry Girls: Blackboard scene becomes Ulster Museum exhibit

The blackboard from Derry Girls
Image caption The blackboard from Derry Girls is at the centre of a new exhibition at the Ulster Museum

Protestants keep toasters in the cupboard, while Catholics love bingo.

The 'blackboard' scene from series two of the hit Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls was one of the standout TV moments of 2019.

When Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle and James go on a cross-community trip, they find there is more that divides Protestants and Catholics than unites them.

Now the blackboard satire is at the centre of a new exhibition at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Culture Lab: Don't Believe the Stereotype aims to show that history and identities in Northern Ireland are more complicated than they might appear.

And the blackboard in Derry Girls - where Protestants hate Abba and Catholics love statues - is a good place to start, according to the chief executive of National Museums Northern Ireland, Kathryn Thomson.

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Media captionDerry Girls exhibit

"We want people to come in and we want them to have fun," she said.

"It's a good-humoured exhibition and we're doing it in a slightly different way, but it is also provocative.

"We hope that people will come together and they will have conversations and in doing so, it'll help to challenge their own perceptions and their own ideas around identity and culture here."

Image caption Kathryn Thomson said she hopes the exhibition will challenge preconceptions around identity

Historical artefacts displayed as part of the exhibition show that our past is also a tangled web.

A Gaelic League Irish language banner from west Belfast, for instance, is displayed alongside an Orange sash from a lodge on the Falls Road.

But there are also a number of more recent exhibits which show that Northern Ireland is not just "orange and green".

The Nerve Centre in Londonderry helped to create the exhibition.

Project manager Niall Kerr collected the experiences and stories of local people, which also feature at the museum.

"What's coming through from this project is that people are moving away from traditional stereotypes or identifying as either Catholic or Protestant," he said.

Image caption Niall Kerr of the Nerve Centre in Derry, which collaborated with the Ulster Museum to create the exhibition

"In the society that we live in, this programme is all about bringing Protestants and Catholics together to engage them around issues of our past and our culture and identity.

"People are telling us that isn't really important anymore, that they're much more focused on issues like the climate, like gay rights, like equal rights."

There is, though, a tongue-in-cheek quiz visitors can take to tell them which religious stereotype they fit.

Image caption A tongue-in-cheek quiz calculates 'how Protestant or Catholic' visitors are

They answer questions about whether they have holidayed in Bundoran or Newcastle, know someone who plays hockey or whether they watch RTÉ.

A 'religious stereotype calculator' then works out how Catholic or Protestant they are, depending on their responses.

Niall Kerr said the quiz was based on what was written on the Derry Girls blackboard.

Image caption The quiz is described as "a fun exploration of where we come from"

"We're trying to let people see beyond those traditional stereotypes," he said.

"It's a fun exploration of where we come from and who were are, but it's... trying to encourage us to move beyond that."

Culture Lab: Don't Believe the Stereotype runs at the Ulster Museum until November.

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