Mid-Antrim Museum and The Braid Arts Centre

About Mid-Antrim Museum and The Braid Arts Centre

Photograph of The Braid

Our History

The name of the town of Ballymena comes from the Irish Gaelic “An Baile Meadhonach” meaning “middle townland”.    The first recorded history of this area dates to the early Christian period between 5th – 7th centuries; however, archaeologists have uncovered artefacts which are reputed to date from the Bronze Age.  The town of Ballymena is built on land given to the Adair family by King Charles 1 in 1626, on the provision that the town holds two annual fairs and a free Saturday market in perpetuity.  

It is an area rich in history; the town and the surrounding villages of Gracehill, Cullybackey, Kells, Broughshane and Portglenone developed principally from the 18th Century through the prosperity of local agriculture and the linen industry. Ballymena grew as a centre of trade, and from the 1850s produced linen cloth in town-based factories. This industry prospered until after the First World War. The railway arrived in 1848, and public buildings, including churches and a town hall, began to proliferate. Inspired by Victorian Romanticism, Sir Robert Alexander Shafto Adair (later Lord Waveney) devised the concept of "Ballymena of the Seven Towers", to celebrate the town's new sense of importance.  Gracehill, a Moravian settlement, is a UNESCO protected world heritage site.

Our Collection

The museum holds a mixed social history collection, primarily based on the 19th and 20th centuries, reflecting the rich history of Ballymena & district and includes industrial, commercial and rural life artefacts.  With nearly 6,000 artefacts, the collection reflects an impressive record of changing times in the region. 

For access to the museum collection, including the photographic collection, for research purposes please contact Noreen Mullan e: noreen.mullan@midandeastantrim.gov.uk  T: 028 2563 5029.

Genealogy

Museums can be a treasure trove for people who are exploring their family history.  The museum has a dedicated mircosite for those wishing to research their family tree:

Explore Your Roots

What’s On

The Mid-Antrim Museum offers a fascinating experience for all the family. The museum boasts two large state of the art exhibition galleries.   In the history gallery, the story of the mid-Antrim area and its people is presented in a thoroughly contemporary way. The exhibition gallery’s programme includes travelling exhibitions and in-house displays based on the museum’s collections.  We feature a varied range of events and tours through the year.  For information and details please see our Exhibition and Events page.

You are welcome to view a variety of virtual exhibitions, showcasing some of our past exhibitions here.

The museum is open throughout the year (closed some public holidays; please check Mid and East Antrim Borough Councils home page for details).