Ulster American Folk Park

Minister announces £2.4 million museum expansion

The Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Nelson McCausland, has announced a major expansion plan at the Ulster American Folk Park. The expansion has been largely funded by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) as part of its capital development programme with National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI) which, since 2006, has provided a total investment of over £18.6m.

The Ulster American Folk Park, located near Omagh, is an outdoor museum which tells the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum organises award-winning events throughout the year including American Independence Day celebrations, Woodfest and the renowned Bluegrass Festival (September 4-6) which attracts musicians from throughout Europe and the USA.

Welcomed by Dan Harvey, chair of the Board of Trustees, NMNI, the minister revealed details of a £2.4m investment which will see 30 additional acres of museum land transformed into a series of American frontier landscapes. These will create the appropriate environments for displaying a growing collection of original Ulster settler buildings from the early American frontier which, when complete, will be the finest such collection found anywhere in the world.

The County Tyrone museum has won numerous awards, attracted globally acclaimed exhibitions and currently attracts 160,000 visitors per year. As well as funding from DCAL, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) has matched a private donation to invest £75k for the restoration and rebuilding of an original frontier log house, first built by Ulster immigrant Richard McCallister in Cabell County, West Virginia, in 1827.
Launching the project, McCausland said: 'The Ulster American Folk is a wonderful exploration of Ulster’s own rich history as well as the role that Ulster emigrants played in shaping American life and culture. The museum appeals to all ages and is an excellent example of Northern Ireland’s outstanding tourist offering.

'This investment from DCAL will further improve visitor experience at the museum and allow the Ulster American Folk Park to expand the New World area. We are keen to continue to invest in our national museums to ensure they are of an exceptional standard with international appeal.'

This first phase of a ten year development programme is due to be completed at the museum in 2011 when it will be open to the public. The rest of the museum will not be affected during the project and will operate normally.