Happy 150th Birthday Ballymoney!!

A very special exhibition opens this week in Ballymoney Museum to celebrate the 150th birthday of this popular tourist attraction.  “Collection – Recollection” tells the remarkable history of the museum from 1860 – 2010 and highlights how important local heritage has always been to the people of North Antrim.

Ballymoney Museum was formed from the collection of James Bell (1785-1855).  He was an antiquarian who gathered a diverse range of artefacts and curiosities at his home on the Leslie Hill estate where he worked.  When Bell died, his collection was auctioned and a large portion was bought by a local solicitor, James Cramsie, who donated it to the people of Ballymoney.

Little was known of Bell’s collection until last summer when the catalogue from the auction was discovered in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).  This important document has helped to identify which artefacts in Ballymoney Museum were originally owned by Bell and it reveals what would have been on display 150 years ago in the first exhibitions in Ballymoney.

In “Collection – Recollection”, visitors can see many of Bell’s original objects, including pieces of armour, a huge antler from a Giant Irish Deer (or Irish Elk), a Bronze Age horn from Drumabest and Medieval bridle bits and spurs.  It is also the first opportunity in 150 years to see the original auction catalogue, generously provided on loan to Ballymoney from PRONI.

“Collection – Recollection” also includes colourful and entertaining display panels which tell the story of the museum since 1860 and reveal many fascinating facts, including how the collection was nearly lost to the Belfast Museum (now the Ulster Museum) back in 1918!

“Collection – Recollection” runs until 24 April and admission is free. Opening hours are Monday-Thursday & Saturday 9am-5pm and Friday 9am-4.30pm.  For further information, please contact the Tourist Information Centre, Ballymoney Town Hall, Townhead Street, Ballymoney, BT53 6BE, Tel: (028) 2766 0230 or Email: museum@ballymoney.gov.uk.