Since the dawn of the 21st century, Belfast has been experiencing a major renaissance into its modern incarnation as a significant centre of global culture and arts. Although it is still recovering from its reputation as a troubled place given its complex history, the facts could not be further from the truth – today Belfast is a veritable hot spot for tourism. What’s more, last month, art galleries across Belfast safely reopened following earlier lockdowns as a consequence of the ongoing global pandemic. This means that residents and visitors alike can finally return to its many and varied galleries. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit for modern art in Belfast right now!
- Belfast Exposed
Right near the centre of Belfast, Belfast Exposed is a terrific gallery to visit for the best takes on modern photography in Northern Ireland. Since 1983 it has wowed visitors with street-level takes on Belfast city life. Its long history has generated an enormous wealth of photographs that serve as a historical guideline through Belfast’s modern history. The gallery is also conscientious in raising local and rising talents to prominence meaning that you will be treated to both the established work of well-known artists as well as the fresh creations of new actors in the scene. Belfast Exposed is a great place to start your exploration of the modern art scene in the city.
- The Metropolitan Arts Centre
Just a few minutes’ walk from Belfast Exposed, The Metropolitan Arts Centre, known to locals simply as The Mac, offers a great next stop on your voyage through Northern Irish cultural life. It’s somewhere you’ll want to plan for a long visit, however, as it is actually composed of six floors and three separate galleries. Dance, music, theatre and other art spaces all compete for the attention of your senses and will keep you engaged and interested for hours on hours. The Mac also offers some international perspectives by inviting global artists to exhibit their work, and the building itself is noteworthy for its architectural elegance, having won a design competition in order to be constructed in the first place. All in all, The Mac should be a key highlight to your tours through Belfast!
- Golden Thread Gallery
Literally across the street from The Mac, The Golden Thread Gallery picks up on that international flair of The Mac and places it front and centre by focusing its exhibitions on international visuals that are informed by a local context. This gives the gallery a truly distinctive flavour which, coupled with the site’s unique history as a linen mill, gift it a very down-to-earth and close-to-the-community vibe. With rich engagement in the working communities surrounding the gallery, this is really a great place to spend time when exploring Belfast’s cultural life both past and present.
- Ulster Museum
Further afield and situated in Belfast’s magnificent Botanic Gardens, you’ll find the Ulster Museum. It’s a great venue for soaking in a more long-term perspective of Belfast’s arts history, as well as viewing some of its modern exhibitions. The age of many of its 19th century buildings synergize with the lush atmosphere of the gardens to instil a real sense of how this space has grown with deep roots in time. Alongside the art gallery featuring such historical works of significance as paintings by the great Sir John Lavery, there are also beautiful artifacts from across the world on display in other rooms. What’s more, the museum’s other areas feature fascinating exhibitions on everything from astronomy to zoology, and so will offer further intellectual delight beyond that of the art gallery itself. Truly a place to spend the whole day, the likely brief journey you will need to take to get out there will be well worth the time!
- Gormleys Fine Art
Although even further away from the city centre, Gormleys Fine Art must be mentioned on any list covering the best places to see modern art in Belfast. With a history stretching back over 30 years, this venue now plays host to regularly updated exhibitions of more than a hundred artists whose work include sculptures, paintings and more. This building consists of three floors packed with rich materials to enjoy on your stay in Belfast and is definitely worth a visit by anyone with an eye for the visual arts.
The Belfast modern art scene continues to grow and even inspires fields away from art. Irish inspired Megaways slots such as the Irish themed Rainbow Riches is the latest example of Irish culture spreading its way into mainstream entertainment. Due to Covid foreign travel restrictions, there has never been a better opportunity for us to visit our local art museums. We are certain you won’t be disappointed and you may even take away a huge dosage of inspiration after visiting discovering some truly fantastic and original Northern Irish modern