• CC exhib

The Nerve Centre's Creative Centenaries project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Community Relations Council, delivered an ambitious programme of exhibitions, events and outreach throughout 2016 in response to key anniversaries. 

Initially, a single exhibition was envisaged, created in Derry~Londonderry and travelling to Belfast and Dublin. However, after discussions with partners and the exciting offer of an extremely large gallery space Art 6 & 7 in the Ulster Museum, it became apparent that this approach was not going to work. It was decided to create two bespoke exhibitions in Derry~Londonderry and Belfast. Subsequently, the opportunity arose to include interactive exhibition elements in the National Library of Ireland’s on-going World War Ireland exhibition in Dublin.


The 1916: Untold Stories exhibition was delivered in partnership with Derry City and Strabane Museums and Visitor Service and looked at the impact of the events of 1916 on people in the north west. Content for the exhibition was selected and co-produced with local historians and through an outreach element with older people / U3A Foyle. The exhibition was presented on large floor-to-ceiling panels and had five zones: The Easter Rising in Derry, The Easter Rising in Dublin, On The Western Front, The Poetry of War and The Cause of Labour.


The Creative Centenaries #MakingHistory 1916 exhibition was the largest and most ambitious exhibition relating to 1916 staged in Northern Ireland, taking place in galleries Art 6&7 in the Ulster Museum.

The development of the exhibition was led by the Nerve Centre, working in close partnership with National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI). Five zones explored how the First World War was a driver for creativity, innovation and social change. Each zone combined a rich mix of archive materials, digital content and art in an exploration of themes including #Making the Home Front, #Making Citizens, #Making Myths, #Making New and #Making War. The project also saw partnerships with Belfast City Council and the National Library of Ireland, among others, and the installation of digital and interactive content in their respective exhibitions.

What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?

The Creative Centenaries Exhibition, Events and Outreach Programme exceeded its target audience and participant numbers. The project was informed by the CRC / HLF Principles for Commemoration and closely aligned with the TBUC strategy, which is a critical starting point for any Decade of Centenaries project.  

The following methodologies, in particular, worked well and gave project outputs a unique, dynamic edge. 

  • Using the ‘lens’ of creativity and innovation to explore heritage and compare / contrast 1916 with modern day
  • Bringing together objects, artefacts and media from a wide range of collections, including IWM, NMNI, Mary Evans Picture Library, NLI, Linen Hall Library, PRONI
  • Displaying previously unseen materials including Olive Swanzy and Jim Maultsaid art work and diaries
  • Using striking artworks by artists Jim Ricks, Eamon O’Doherty, Ciara Conway, and Anne Tallentire, to engage audiences with heritage and themes from 1916, including development of flight, gramophone technology, mechanised warfare, and architecture
  • Employing a visual arts creator and designer to select materials and give the exhibitions a colourful, vibrant presentation, avoiding clichéd monochrome / sepia tone
  • Interpreting heritage through formats such as 24 hour news stories and Tweets i.e. in ways people use every day and can easily understand
  • Using cutting edge digital displays and projections, including a large multiscreen projection, VR projection in partnership with BBC, interactive iBooks, interactive screen developed with Bangor Grammar School pupils, animations and audio content, as well as comic books, to interpret and explain heritage
  • Providing a #Making the Future feedback wall asking questions about the next 100 years to link heritage to modern day issues and themes
  • Working collaboratively with key exhibition partners Tower Museum and NMNI, pooling resources and expertise

Further Information

Niall Kerr, n.kerr@nervecentre.org, 028 7126 0562