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Northern Ireland's Ulster Museum reopens to the public, Access for All strategy announced
Kathryn Thomson (centre), Chief Executive of National Museums NI, pictured with the the Access for All partners. From left-right: Andrew Murdock, Policy and Engagement Manager, Guide Dogs NI; Dr Jackie Witherow, Northern Ireland Director, RNIB; Christine Kearney, Director of Development, Autism NI; Linda Robinson, CEO, Age NI; Tony Doherty, Regional Coordinator, Healthy Living Centre Alliance; and Diane Hill, Business Development Director, NOW Group.

BELFAST.- National Museums NI has begun the phased reopening of its museums with the announcement that the Ulster Museum has now reopened to the public with an emphasis on encouraging people from all communities to visit.

The Ulster Museum officially opened its doors on Thursday 30 July welcoming its first visitors since the venue closed over four months ago.

It is the first of National Museums NI’s four sites to reopen, with the Ulster Folk Museum and Ulster American Folk Park set to reopen on August 13 and the Ulster Transport Museum the following week on August 20.

Prior to reopening, the Ulster Museum was awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark. The UK-wide industry standard, managed locally by Tourism Northern Ireland, signifies how tourism and hospitality businesses have implemented the appropriate processes and health and safety measures, in line with government and industry guidelines, to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.

National Museums NI Chief Executive Kathryn Thomson says, “We’re delighted to have been awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ industry standard. It will serve to provide reassurance to our visitors that we're following the government and public health advice to welcome them back to our museum for a safe and enjoyable experience.”

To coincide with the reopening of the Ulster Museum, National Museums NI also announced its new Access for All strategy which has been designed to support those communities who have felt the effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic more deeply than others.

The initiative will include dedicated booking slots earmarked for communities including those of older people, those with hearing loss, sight loss, families and adults with special educational needs, and those who have been socially prescribed.

Ms Thomson says the priority in reopening is to ensure the new measures can facilitate visitors from all communities.

“To assure inclusion of all communities when reopening we have actioned our Access for All strategy. We are delighted to be working in partnership with several organisations representing communities more acutely affected by the impact of isolation, to design accessible, welcoming, safe experiences and spaces for all.”

To deliver the programme, National Museums NI has engaged with partners from organisations including Age NI, Autism NI, RNIB, Guide Dogs NI, Spring Social Prescribing, Healthy Living Centre Alliance and the NOW Group.

Supported by the programme partners and developed in conjunction with their service users, National Museums NI is currently exploring ways to engage these communities through facilitated workshops, remote sessions to bring the museum experience directly to those yet unable to visit, and offering opportunities for safe tactile engagement during visits for members of the community with sensory needs.

A new booking system has been launched and all visitors are asked to book a free time slot to visit the Ulster Museum.

The Ulster Museum will reopen with its normal hours for six days a week while the other sites will open four days weekly.

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