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The Irish Museums Association (IMA) and Ulster University have today, 17 June 2020, announced Ms Catherine McCullough as the recipient of the Northern Bridge Consortium Collaborative Doctoral Award ‘The EU and the museum: an investigation of cross-border museum activity in Ireland’.

A fully funded Doctoral Training Partnership between Ulster University and IMA, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), this project will provide new insights into how EU cultural and peace building strategies have impacted museum practice in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Taking a multi-faceted approach, it will examine the processes, rationale, character and working practices of EU funded cross border museum-based projects and make recommendations on how museums can continue to deepen and sustain cross-border creativity.

Ms Catherine McCullough is currently the Director of the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies (2018-2020). She has previously held senior positions with National Museums Northern Ireland as Head of Learning and Partnership (2011-2018) and Armagh County Museum as Curator/Director (1992-2006). McCullough is an assessor for the Heritage Council of Ireland’s Museum Standards Programme and has authored numerous publications on cultural heritage in Ireland.

In announcing the award recipient, Professor Elizabeth Crooke, who leads and Heritage and Museum Studies at Ulster University, said:

“Catherine brings a wealth of experience in the museum sector and is ideally positioned to undertake this project. We are delighted to count on someone of her calibre to – through her research - advance our understanding of the social and political dimensions of cultural policy and museum practice in a cross-border context and stimulate new thinking about museum purposes.”

William Blair, Chair of the Irish Museums Association, also warmly welcomed the successful nomination of McCullough, adding:

“It is particularly relevant that this research takes place as we continue to assess the impact of the exit of the UK from the EU.

Investment in culture is vital to strengthening our society, now needed more than ever given our current climate. This research will allow us to significantly assess museum activity fostered through EU funding and gain a better understanding of its impact on cross-border relations so that we will be better positioned to advocate for continued and increased resourcing.”

Project background

This Collaborative Doctoral Award project is a supervisor-led partnership between Ulster University and the Irish Museums Association (IMA), the all-island museum representative organisation. It is funded by the Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership (, which is a consortium of seven UK universities supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

It builds on the Ulster University-IMA research partnership funded by the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s Cooperation with Northern Ireland Scheme in 2018 - 2019, which saw the publication of the report ‘Brexit and the Museum Sector in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland’ (Crooke and O’Kelly, 2018) and ‘Bridge Over Brexit’ (O’Kelly, 2019).