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CultureLab exhibition turns into online experience

22 May 2020

Following its successful opening at the Ulster Museum earlier this year, the CultureLab exhibition has launched as a fully immersive digital experience bringing all elements from the physical space online.

Featuring items such as the now famous “Differences” blackboard (on which are scrawled dozens of differences between Catholics and Protestants) from the hit TV series Derry Girls and an interactive ‘Religious Stereotype Calculator’, aimed at determining how Protestant or Catholic you, CultureLab was an instant hit drawing hundreds of visitors in its first week.

The exhibition is now online, helping viewers to explore the complexity of cultural identity and expression in Northern Ireland.

Take a look and learn from objects that went on display in the museum, including a collarette from an Orange Lodge on the Falls Road, Edward Carson's ceremonial uniform, and posters from National Museums NI's collection recalling anti-gay sentiments from the 1970s. 

See the inspiration behind the iconic Derry Girls blackboard prop before testing your identity and finding out how Protestant or Catholic you are in the world of Derry Girls

The final section of the exhibition aims to challenge preconceptions about real people from across Northern Ireland, featuring their faces and voices in an interactive game. 

Niall Kerr, Making the Future Project Manager at the Nerve Centre, says it will allow many more people who had planned to visit the museum to explore and interact with the legacy of the past while in lockdown.

'Following the success of CultureLab as a physical exhibition, we’re excited to be able to bring it online and to open up the experience for new audiences while they can’t visit the Ulster Museum in person. CultureLab is a key component of the Making the Future programme which uses objects, collections and archives from key institutions to pose challenging questions about the past, take the temperature of where we are as a society and create potential solutions for our future.

'Along with the exhibition, the project has been able to run a series of online community engagement programmes, using collections and resources at National Museums NI to engage participants across the region with themes and ideas linked to CultureLab and to bring people together in an exploration of our shared heritage.'

Aaron Ward, Head of Audience Development at National Museums NI says the digitised version is immersive and as interactive as the real world show.

'Everybody is delighted that we were able to recreate the exhibition in its entirety in digital form so we look forward to lots of people engaging with it. While it is fun and lighthearted, it also has a more serious purpose in challenging stereotypes which continue to persist in Northern Ireland and the border counties. The project is characterised by respect for different traditions and the ability to celebrate cultural diversity in an environment free for prejudice, intolerance and hate,' he says.

'This joint project with the Nerve Centre enables National Museums NI to build on the success of exhibitions and engagement carried out to date during the ‘Decade of Centenaries’, to increase the visibility of our collections, and to widen community discussion and participation in curation of exhibitions, towards both a greater public appreciation of the value of museums and the attainment of the overarching aims of PEACE IV in respect of enhancing societal cohesion,” he said. 

Click here to visit the CultureLab website