Catherine McCullough

Catherine McCullough, (PhD Researcher)

1986 …2022

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Personal profile

PhD Researcher Profile

PhD project: The EU and the museum: an investigation of cross-border museum projects in Ireland

AHRC Northern Bridge Collaborative Doctorial Training Award 


A committed museum professional with almost forty year’s extensive experience, broad sectoral knowledge, a solid research background and expertise in curation, collections care and management, museum strategy, exhibitions, outreach and learning programmes, community engagement and public programming.  With significant personal understanding of the cultural and social landscape of these border communities, I am keenly interested in investigating, recording and evaluating the impact of cross-border museum projects in Ireland and making recommendations for the future.

I am interested in urban history and am co-author (with the late Dr WH Crawford), of the Armagh City, Irish Historic Towns Atlas, published in 2007, by the Royal Irish Academy.

Research Interests

With significant personal understanding of the cultural and social landscape of these border communities, I am keenly interested in investigating, recording and evaluating the impact of cross-border museum projects in Ireland and making recommendations for the future.

Since 1985, my professional career has been spent working in museums in Northern Ireland, mostly in the Border area, and at a senior level.  I ran Armagh County Museum (1992-2011) where I worked with colleagues on cross-border projects including loan exhibitions, an area of work affected by the uncertainty over Brexit and export regulations.  Based on the Ulster American Folk Park site from 2011 as Head of Learning and Partnership and then as Director of the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies (2018-2020), I have over 30 years’ experience in facing the everyday challenges of museum work in a border context.

I have been involved in curation, exhibitions, education, collections, archives, business planning, financial and staff management, oversight of capital programmes, making, implementing and evaluating grant applications, the planning and delivery of workshops, lectures and conferences – the full spectrum of museum work. 

I have been an Assessor for the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland for The Heritage Council (Museum Accreditation scheme) since 2006.  I was assessor for the Butler Gallery, Kilkenny; Donegal County Museum; Cavan County Museum and the Glebe House and Gallery in Donegal.  Carrying out these assessments has kept me up-to-date with policy changes, cross-border programmes and the issues museums will encounter as they face the changed world that Brexit has brought about.

I am interested in urgan history and am co-author (with the late Dr W.H. Crawford) of the Armagh city Irish Historic Towns Atlas, pulbished by the Royal Irish Academy (2007).  I keep up-to-date with current museological developments and research including decolonisation, gendering of knowledge and museum histories. 

Research skills:

Historical research in terms of critical ability to determine quality, accuracy and validity of written, oral and map sources viz. Armagh; Irish Historic Towns Atlas (2007).  Ability to process, understand and evaluate government strategies, EU documentation and programme evaluations. Capability of producing succinct working reports and final commentaries.

Teaching Interests

Teaching experience:

Post Grad tutor: MA Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies: Ulster University

2020-2021: Exhibitions: practice and evaluation (CUS 805)

2021-2022: Communication and Learning in the Museum (CUS 818)

Supervision of MA Public History students from Queen’s University, Belfast hosting annual internships; Director: Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, 2018-2020

Museum learning projects: 1986-2020

Devised and delivered range of interactive student-centred and lifelong learning programmes for over 20,000 participants annually (UAFP)

Developed and delivered learning activities for all temporary exhibitions (ACM and UAFP)

Managed two long-term projects for older people delivering innovative activities (UAFP)

Delivered presentations and talks for internal training programmes, historical societies, schools and students


Employment History:

PhD Researcher, AHRC Northern Bridge Consortium Doctoral Researcher   October 2020 to present

Competitive award for “The EU and the museum: an investigation of cross-border museum projects in Ireland” at Ulster University (Magee Campus).  My supervisors are: Professor E Crooke, Museum and Heritage Studies; Dr P McDermott, Senior Lecturer, Sociology and Ms G O’Kelly, Director, Irish Museums Association.


Director, Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, based at UAFP                August 2018 to August 2020

Employer: Scotch Irish Trust of Ulster

Responsibilities included leadership, governance and management of all operational matters for Irish Diaspora research institute including research and publications, conferences and lectures, running internship programmes for post/graduate students, community engagement events, operational and staff management, working directly with the Department of Communities and Accounting Officer.


Head of Learning and Partnership, UAFP                                             September 2011 to August 2018 

Employer: National Museums NI (NMNI)

In this senior leadership role, I was responsible for all formal and informal learning at UAFP covering schools and curriculum-based programmes and community engagement projects. This included the management of projects and staff across all National Museums NI sites including the Ulster Museum, the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum and Armagh County Museum. 

Career break (Curator in absentia)    May 2006 to August 2011 

To care for young family.  Whilst on this career break, I was appointed an Assessor for the Museum Standards Programme for Ireland by The Heritage Council, Republic of Ireland. 


Curator/Director of Armagh County Museum                                           October 1992 to April 2006 

Employer: Ulster Museum and Museums and Galleries of NI (NMNI)

Led, managed and promoted the County Museum service including the areas of exhibitions and publications, finance and planning, governance and administration, learning and partnership programmes and interpretation and collection management. Curatorial Advisor to Royal Irish Fusiliers Museum and the Armagh Public Library. 


Deputy Curator, Armagh County Museum                                         September 1988 to October 1992 

Employer: Ulster Museum

Responsible for research and production of in-house exhibitions, development and delivery of education programmes for all age groups, design and delivery of teacher training programmes, staff management, collection management, talks and workshop programme for local groups, grant applications and representation on external committees. 


Museum Officer, Fermanagh County Museum                                                April 1986 to August 1988 

Employer: Fermanagh District Council

Responsible for research and delivery of temporary exhibition programme, lecturing to local societies, management of all staff, delivery of workshops for schools, developing partnerships, grant applications and collections management. 


Oral Historian, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum                              September 1985 to March 1986 

Employer: Ulster Folk and Transport Museum

Part-time post working on Temperance project across the nine counties of Ulster – interviewed and transcribed over 30 life narratives relating to Temperance movements. 


Genealogist, Ulster Historical Foundation                                              September 1985 to March 1986 

Employer: Ulster Historical Foundation

Part-time post working in Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, conducting genealogical searches for clients. 


Volunteer, McManus Art Galleries and Museum, Dundee                            1984 to 1985 (Term time) 

Worked on re-fit of History Galleries and catalogued major Jute Collection (specimens, plans, photographs, glass plates; knowledge based on dissertation project). 


Volunteer, Ulster American Folk Park                                                 1984 to 1985 (Vacation period) 

Worked on new Ship and Dockside gallery plans, research programme for site and object location project. 


Volunteer, Crail Museum, Fife                                                                   1983 to 1984 (Term time) 

Involved in all areas of local museum work including documentation and exhibitions. 


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Master, Economic and Social History, University of St Andrews

1 Oct 19815 Jul 1985

Award Date: 5 Jul 1985

External positions

Assessor for The Museums Standards Programme for Ireland, The Heritage Council

Jun 2016 → …


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