The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (the Assembly Commission) has agreed to produce a new permanent display of artefacts in Parliament Buildings. The display will highlight the parliamentary and political institutions from the creation of the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1921 to the creation of the current Northern Ireland Assembly (the Assembly) and subsequent political developments.
Speaker of the Assembly and Chairperson of the Assembly Commission, Alex Maskey MLA recently said:
I am pleased to be able to announce this new initiative and I thank all the political parties represented on the Assembly Commission for their support and agreement.
Since the creation of the Assembly in 1998, the nature of items displayed in Parliament Buildings has been the subject of much political discussion. Late last year, the Assembly Commission tasked a working group to undertake a review of items and images on display in Parliament Buildings. The group has made a series of recommendations that the Assembly Commission will now take forward.
This innovative display will include major figures from all political perspectives connected to the institutions over the past 100 years. It will also include a number of portraits, photographs and images on display for the first time along with items that are currently in storage or in non-public areas of Parliament Buildings. Importantly, the display will include greater representation of the role played by women in the parliamentary institutions.
The display will be a permanent feature in Parliament Buildings and will be located in the Great Hall, the Senate and Assembly Rotundas, and the surrounding corridors on the ground floor, all of which are accessible to the public. The display will open to the public on 28 March 2022.
Mr Maskey concluded:
Parliament Buildings has been closed to the public for much of the last two years and we are keen to welcome visitors back. This new range of artefacts will undoubtably add to the visitor experience, deepen understanding of the history of this place and ensure greater political balance in what is displayed in Parliament Buildings.
Notes to Editors
Principles for the Review of the Display of Artefacts in Parliament Buildings agreed by the Assembly Commission
- It is acknowledged that Parliament Buildings is inevitably influenced by its origins and its history.
- The display of artefacts and other items within Parliament Buildings should seek to reflect all of its history from the old Parliament to the current Assembly.
- The purpose of the display of artefacts and other items should be to add to the visitor experience and to educate visitors on key aspects of the history of the building.
- Artefacts and other items displayed within Parliament Buildings should be focused and connected to the building's purpose as a home to parliamentary institutions.
- The display of artefacts should be guided by historical fact including reflecting key figures and key events and political developments.
- In reflecting parliamentary history, items displayed should seek to reflect a range of perspectives and take account of all sections of the community including political opinion and gender.
- Items displayed to highlight historical fact may include items owned by the Commission, items loaned from other institutions or copies of relevant items such as portraits, photographs or documents.
- For those items owned by the Commission which do not contribute to the visitor experience and raising awareness of key aspects of parliamentary history, the Commission is open to considering requests for loans from organisations who may be able to display them to interested audiences.
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