There are museums for adults and there are museums for children. And then there are museums that manage to ensnare the interest of adults and children alike.
Northern Ireland’s Titanic Belfast is in this rarefied category. The museum provides information about the Titanic itself, the Belfast shipyards where it was built, and, more impressive yet, the social and cultural milieu of Belfast in the early 20th Century. The museum is edgy, even experimental, while remaining firmly, smartly tailored to children’s shorter attention spans and desires for novelty from room to room.
Titanic Belfast opened to much media fanfare in March 2012. The sizable museum is distributed across nine galleries in all. My personal favorite is probably the very first, a gallery titled Boomtown Belfast, devoted to the city of the early 1900s. The gallery provides a rich sense of Belfast at this historical point, reproducing news stories from the era and operating an interactive floor. And if that seems too heady, the following gallery involves an actual ride through a dark, richly animated space depicting shipbuilding during the era of the Titanic.
There are innovative displays throughout the building, but the first two galleries may just take the cake. The building itself is also an impressive architectural oddity, conceptualized by London-based CivicArts / Eric R Kuhne & Associates with Belfast’s Todd Architects as Lead Consultant. The building is covered with several thousand 3D aluminum plates at dramatic angles; reflective pools at ground level render the construction even more dramatic.
Titanic Belfast can be found in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, a regeneration scheme of a district with many facilities for tourists. There are walking tours provided by Titanic Tours Belfast, which focus on important Titanic historical sites, the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, W5 Interactive Discovery Centre, a science and discovery center, and Belfast Sea Safari, a sightseeing speedboat tour.
There are other reasons to visit Belfast, but this museum ranks near the top. Its ambition is exciting and its exhibitions are fresh and appealing.
Admission to Titanic Belfast is £14.75 for adults and £7.25 for kids aged five through 16. There is a slight discount for online ticket purchases. From April through September, the museum is open every day from 9 a.m. – 7 pm. From October through March, opening hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day. There is parking on site.