CultureLab / Ulster Museum  / Belfast 2020
Client: National Museums NI
Role: Exhibition Designer

Niamh Baker (NMNI)
Graphic Design: Studio Aad
Exhibition Copy: Michael O’Neill
Interactive Design & Development: Noho
Interviews: Nerve Centre

Culture Lab is part of Making the Future - supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.


CultureLab deals with a contested history while exploring cultural stereotypes and posing questions around issues of culture.

With the tagline ‘Don’t Believe the Stereotype’, the exhibition takes a playfully provocative approach, and includes the famous ‘Differences’ blackboard from the TV series Derry Girls.

Objects from National Museums NI collections on display are intended to offer a glimpse into how identities have been, and continue to be, shaped in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Exhibition Design

The challenge was to create an exhibition that is both respectful and humorous with regards the cultural stereotypes that exist in Northern Ireland.

As props from the Derry Girls TV show were being exhibited as key objects in the exhibition, there was an opportunity to align the overall tone of the exhibition with that of the show.

Out of this thought process evolved the concept for an Interactive - touchscreen and wall projection - whereby visitors to the exhibition could determine how Protestant or Catholic they are according to the world of Derry Girls. Designed in the style of video games of the Derry Girls era, the Interactive challenged prejudices by revealing their often comical realities.

“Protestants keep their toasters in cupboards”
“Catholics go on holidays to Bundoran”
“Protestants love soup”
“Catholics love statues”


Interviews with people in Northern Ireland that focused on the realities of living in Northern Ireland formed the backbone for a more serious section of the exhibition.

A desire to present these stories as more than an audio loop led to the design of a tactile interactive where visitors were challenged to guess who-said-what by judging photos of peoples faces. This naturally highlighted how often one is wrong when judging people based on how they look.

The final area in the exhibition referenced the Derry Girls TV show with a Similarities Blackboard where people could leave their thoughts.