National Museums NI and universities unite to boost research and public engagement

Pictured (L-R) launching the new strategic partnerships are Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President, Ulster University; Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive at National Museums NI; William Blair, Director of Collections at National Museums NI, and Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast.

National Museums NI has announced the formation of a new strategic partnership with Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University to enhance cross-institutional collaboration in a bid to advance cultural research, maximise public engagement and share expertise

The organisations will work together to improve public awareness of research and collections by developing a programme of education, outreach and culture to demonstrate the value and impact of cultural research

National Museums NI says the partnerships will see it ‘collaborate with departments across a broad-spectrum of research areas at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences’.

This will include new agreements outlining how the universities will work together with National Museums to ensure collaboration in future research projects and ‘improved access to facilities and expertise between organisations for faculty members, students and staff’.

William Blair, Director of Collections at National Museums NI, said the partnerships will help connect researchers with museum collections and leverage collective knowledge resources between the organisations.

“These exciting partnerships open up new areas of research and focus for National Museums NI and the universities involved,” he said. “Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University conduct world-class and pioneering research. Through close cooperation, utilising the talent pool and our collective expertise, we can continue to highlight the importance and value of our museums through integration with cutting-edge research to improve public awareness and knowledge of National Museums NI collections.”

Development of staff and students

As well as increasing awareness of opportunities for cross-institutional research, the partnerships also aim to support the development of staff and students.

Blair also said that collaborations such as these ‘establish a basis from which our local universities can benefit from National Museums NI resources, collections and its people’.

It also allows the museums’ staff to access the skills, expertise and facilities available at Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University to continue personal and professional development with a view to enhancing the visitor experience at the four museums. Students from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University will also have the opportunity to participate in and contribute to museum research and collections as well as take up placements.

“As a civic university committed to enhancing the communities we operate in, I welcome the innovative partnership launched today and the impact it will have on research outcomes locally, nationally and internationally,” said Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President, Ulster University. “Building on Ulster University’s expertise in the creative industries, we will be working together on areas including research collaboration on projects and PhD topics, student placements opportunities, Public Engagement and sharing of faculties, training and resources. By combining our respective knowledge, experiences and expertise, this partnership will deliver real benefits for our cultural heritage, our staff and ultimately for the general public.”

National Museums NI is formed of Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park.