Facilities added to by £55,429 scheme
More facilities are now available in Lisburn museum following the completion of a scheme costing £55,429.
The Mayor, Councillor Walter T. Lilburn, unveiled a commemorative plaque at a ceremony in the building on Wednesday night.
He was introduced by Alderman Ronnie Campbell, chairman of the council's recreation and allied services committee.
The upper portion of the old building, dating back to the late 17th century, has undergone a wonderful transformation, giving Lisburn one of the most modern museum buildings in Northern Ireland.
The facilities include a new upper floor or balcony at one end of the Assembly Room, which will give scope for exhibitions and a small library and reading area and museum display work at balcony level, a new administrative office and general improvements to the building.
The mezzanine balcony is an attractive architectural feature of the scheme. A small minstrels gallery often formed part of such an 18th century hall.
The columns are non-structural but they perform an important visual function and match those already existing at each side of the 18th century pedimented doorway at the west end of the assembly room.
The two surviving carved timber fluted columns with Corinthian capitals from the old Lisburn courthouse demolished some years ago were donated to the museum by Mr. Hugh Gray Bass, a former Mayor and match almost exactly the columns of the west doorway.
The two additional columns were cast in hard plaster from moulds taken from one of the courthouse columns and the balcony front was embellished with a cornice and entablature similar to that already on the west doorway pediment. The work provides a strong visual link between the balcony at one end of the assembly room and the one feature still surviving from the 18th century decoration of the room.
The room's first major use will be for `The Huguenots and Ulster', an exhibition opening on October 1 and extending to April 30 of next year. Some of the portraits in the exhibition are already on the walls.
Mr. Bass was one of the speakers at the ceremony on Wednesday and tributes were paid to him for all his work and interest in helping to preserve Lisburn's historic past.
It is expected that the improvements will result in even bigger attendances at the museum and will be an added attraction for local school pupils and others.
Mr. Brian Mackey, who has been curator of the museum since June 1979, will have more scope for his work and no doubt he is well pleased with the scheme. Mr. George McCarroll and Mr. David McCabe are museum technicians and Mrs. Lila Reid clerical officer/museum assistant.