In 2018 the Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society (BNHPS) and Ulster Architectural Heritage (UAH) embarked on the first phase of a project to bring the museum back to life. Following a period of meanwhile use, the building was at risk, having been added onto the Heritage At Risk Register in 2017.
The first phase of the Old Museum Building: Back to Life project, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, has seen UAH and BNHPS come together to explore potential long-term uses for the building which will complement the aims of both organisations. During this phase, a structural assessment of the building was also undertaken in order to better understand opportunities for making the building more accessible and commercially viable, whilst retaining its character and architectural integrity.
During the project so far, consultation with stakeholders and members of the public have offered a clear path ahead, allowing the partnership to move forward with plans to open the building up to the general public through programmed events, as a centre for built heritage and history.
The second phase of the project will commence in 2020 (subject to funding). This will see further research into the architectural and social history of the museum, the trialling of new events and the formalisation of the partnership between the two societies. Plans will also be finalised for the restoration of the building, which will include a sympathetic extension incorporating a lift and ramp for disabled access to the rear, subject to approval.
The third phase will see the physical transformation of the Old Museum Building take place, and will allow us to open the doors to a wider audience.
For more information see oldmuseumbuilding.org.uk