Plans for the redevelopment of Ulster Folk Museum have been submitted by its parent organisation National Museums NI to Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Expected to cost in the region of £50 million, the project at Cultra in County Down has already attracted just over £1 million support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help progress the development stage of the project.

If approved, the plans will see the creation of new learning facilities focussed on heritage and environmental conservation education.

National Museum NI said the plans will ‘reawaken’ the significance of the way of life distinctive to the people of Ulster, and the application of the way of life in tackling modern issues such as cultural diversity, wellbeing and environmental change.

The scheme includes two new buildings, a ‘Culture Hub’ and an ‘Industry Zone’ which will tell the story of industrialisation with a collection currently inaccessible to the public.

An existing partnership with The Conservation Volunteers, which has already relocated its Native Tree Nursery to the museum, will see a ‘Green Gym’ created. It will offer people the opportunity to better their physical and mental health by planting fruits and vegetables at the cottage gardens within the museum.

Chief Executive of National Museums NI, Kathryn Thomson, said: “We want to ensure inclusive access to our museums and maximise the learning, wellbeing and economic benefits they bring to wider society.

“The rich cultural landscape and diverse collections preserved at the Ulster Folk Museum have never been more relevant to our lives today. With coordinated investment, we can help to bring people together through heritage and inspire new thinking about our shared and sustainable future.”

As part of the project, a period of Pre-application Community Consultation will start in April online and via drop-in community consultation events.

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