Belfast galleries take your mind off Troubles

They may not be on the doorstep, but if you find yourself in Belfast for a few days and need a respite from Troubles tours and Guinness, there are several great galleries worth checking out.
I went to see two ice hockey games but spent as much time in different galleries as the rink.
Three small galleries have often-changing exhibition.
The Ormeau Baths Gallery in Ormeau Avenue has lovely large, open spaces over two floors.
Until March 19 it is showing Expecting the Terror by Philip Napier, works which look at connections, and a world obsessed with consumption. There are references to the fated mission to find the North West Passage by an Irishman Francis Crozier in the 1840s, with a wreath and a polar bear skin draped over a bike pulling an ice cream cart with a ship sticking out the top.
There are also references to the growth of the Chinese economy, with a forklift made of plywood, and a picture of a huge tanker ship shows the growth in world trade.
The Naughton Gallery is inside Queen’s University, but open to the public. Until the end of February there’s a fascinating and touching photographic exhibition by Susie Rea of siblings in their 90s from across Europe, along with a quote from each about how they feel to have reached such a great age.
The one thing most seem to have in common is a parent who also lived to be very old, though it’s amusing that they don’t all get on brilliantly despite making it so far together.
The Belfast Exposed gallery in Donegall Street usually puts on photograph exhibitions but until March 4 is showing Make It New John, a film by Duncan Campbell about the DeLorean sports car, its creator John DeLorean and the workers of the Belfast car plant who build it in the 1980s, until its huge downfall. Part of it is documentary and part played by actors, and looks at the way stories are told and myths made.
The superb and huge Ulster Museum reopened in October 2009 after closure for a major refurbishment.
It’s now stunning inside, with gleaming white walls and a big open space in the centre, and collections that span world cultures, natural history, items from a Spanish Armada boat sunk off the coast, history, archaeology, geology and of course Irish history.
The art collection is also impressive, including Irish masters, and paintings from Britain and across Europe as well as ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, silverwork and costumes.
The 20th century British, European and American painting collection is particularly strong and engrossing.
Until the end of February the gallery is showing works by Richard Long in Artist Rooms on Tour with the Art Fund, a collection of images from his works interacting with nature. But even if there’s not a temporary exhibition on which grips you, there’s room after room of paintings and sculptures to entertain on a wet Belfast winter day.

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