New museums to promote Orange Heritage

New interpretative centres promoting the Orange Institution will be formally known as the Museums of Orange Heritage, it has been confirmed.

The museums, currently undergoing construction at Schomberg House, Belfast, and at Sloan’s House, Co Armagh, are part of the REACH Project (Reaching out through Education and Cultural Heritage), which received £3.6 million from the EU’s PEACE III programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Both facilities are progressing well and expected to open later this year, providing a unique and unprecedented showcase of Orange history and culture.

The museum branding, which was commissioned by the Grand Lodge, is now officially trademarked. It encompasses King William III on horseback and is based on a silver statuette from 1829, produced in Cork city, now in the care of the Institution. The clearly defined saddlecloth represents the original version, also in the possession of the Loyal Order, and which will be one of the major attractions set to go on display at the Belfast site.

The official title of the new interpretative centres was unveiled by the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson.

He said: “The Museums of Orange Heritage represent one of the most significant and exciting initiatives ever undertaken by the Institution. There is now a sense of real anticipation as their physical completion moves ever closer.

“The new name exemplifies this innovative outreach project, and it is only appropriate King William III should represent such world-class interpretative centres, given his obvious historical significance and relevance.”

He added: “Both facilities in Belfast and Loughgall will allow us to preserve and present the impressive historical collections of the Orange Order, as well as promote understanding and mutual respect through interpretation and creation of shared space.”

The concept for the logo came from Grand Lodge Director of Services, Dr David Hume, and local graphic designer Mark Thompson was then commissioned to execute it.

Dr. Hume said: “The silver statuette of King William is an outstanding artefact and we are delighted that it will be the first artefact that the visitor to our Belfast museum sees.

“The saddlecloth is another major historical piece and the design incorporates it as well. We expect that this logo will be viewed by thousands of visitors to our centres each year and it is a very clear and modern treatment which also looks back to the era of William III, which really epitomizes what the museum will be doing.

“The Museum of Orange Heritage will provide a focus for those interested in learning about Orange traditions, culture and community when the two sites open this summer, and we are very excited about this major project.”

The redevelopment of the Institution’s Cregagh Road headquarters will include a museum displaying a wealth of items and artefacts relating to this history of Orangeism across the world. The expansion will also incorporate a research facility and educational resource, with particular access for school and cross-community visits.

The refurbishment of Sloan’s House – where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago – will include an extension to cater for an additional museum exhibition area and provision of detailed information relating to the early history of the Orange Order.

Five full-time staff, including a museum curator and marketing officer, have been appointed to work at both sites.

Part-funding for the project was provided by the Department for Social Development and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, in the Republic of Ireland.