Botanic Gardens Belfast BT9 5AB
The Ulster Museum occupies a special place in the hearts of most Northern Irish adults, as they cast their mind back to long-ago school trips and their very first encounter with Takabuti, the Egyptian Mummy. The museum and its residents are just as capable of firing infant imaginations today, with a fantastic array of permanent exhibits on display, from the weird and wonderful fossil collection to the gigantic and spectacular Edmontosaurus dinosaur skeleton. Takabuti is still there, attracting the wide-mouthed stares of the young and old alike, while the art department offers up over 12,000 pieces, ranging from local artists to British masters. It's the perfect place to while away a few hours on a rainy afternoon, and if the sun does decide to make an appearance, the museum is nestled in a corner of Belfast's beautiful Botanic Gardens. Bring a picnic to enjoy outside or grab a seat in the museum café, overlooking the Gardens. The recent multi-million pound refurbishment programme undertaken at the museum saw the addition of three Discovery Centres (Art, Nature and History) which are jam-packed with things to do for the pint-sized visitor. They can get downright messy creating their own masterpiece, have a go at digging for fossils or grab a pair of binoculars to find out what's going on in the gardens below. There's also a chance to dress-up as royalty from bygone times, as well as plenty of child-friendly exhibits on display to hold their interest. The Ulster Museum can be whatever you want it to be: a place to escape, away from the crowds... or a fun family day out.