A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons

Ulster Museum gets fired up as new family folklore exhibition opens to the public

A new exhibition for uncovering the fascinating folklore of Vikings, dragons and the creative processes behind the the creative processes behind Cressida Cowell's best-selling How to Train Your Dragon book series opens today at the Ulster Museum.

The exhibition, which runs until August 31, is being staged in partnership with Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books and will feature Cressida’s original drawings, manuscripts and work processes. In a fresh approach to developing exhibition content, visitors will be transported back in time to a fictional world where Vikings ruled and dragons roamed. With Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as an unlikely hero, visitors will discover the tribe of Hairy Hooligans, his island home of Berk, his hunting dragon Toothless and his quest to become a hero the hard way.

The exhibition also draws on the Ulster Museum’s collections and includes finds from Viking York, on loan from York Museums Trust. Other highlights including an original Viking sword, a bone ice-skate, and a fantastical painting of dragons by the artist Newton Penprase will also be on display.

Dragon 2

Hannah Crowdy, National Museums Northern Ireland’s Interpretation Manager, described the exhibition as a wonderful combination of learning and fun: 'We are delighted to be working in partnership with Seven Stories to stage this special exhibition. We believe it is an important exhibition which will make a real contribution to encouraging young people to see the importance of reading in a fun way.

'Children have an enduring fascination with ‘Vicious Vikings’ and mystical dragons, and A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons transports our young visitors to a fictional world where dragons lived amongst us and going to school meant learning how to tame a dragon and how to be a Viking pirate.'

Hannah added, 'My hope is that visitors young and old will be inspired by this exhibition, the first of its kind in Ireland and they will enjoy exploring these wonderful drawings and how Cressida was inspired by Viking history, legend and dragonlore. We are excited to open such an unusual and entertaining exhibition and incorporate some of our own superb collections.'

Gillian Rennie, Senior Exhibition Curator at Seven Stories said: 'We’re delighted that the Ulster Museum have taken the spirit of our Deadly Dragons exhibition to heart and enhanced it with their own collections. It is an incredible venue and a great setting for young people to discover Hiccup’s story and be inspired to create their own.' 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of events including movie screenings, Real Vikings Days with swordplay demonstrations and dedicated Viking craft days and storytelling sessions. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Ulster Museum’s reception.

A Viking’s Guide to Deadly Dragons runs at the Ulster Museum until August 31. For further information visit www.nmni.com/um.