Milestones: Birth, Marriage and Death in County Down. New Exhibition opens at Down County Museum

Down County Museum has just launched a new exhibition which looks at how the key milestones in life,  birth, marriage and death have been marked by people in County Down over time. The new exhibition brings together a wealth of objects, documents and photographs which illustrate how these events have been shaped by history and changes in technology and traditions,  and how some customs have survived from centuries past.
The exhibition’s section on birth examines how the arrival of new life, often in times when childbirth was fraught with danger for mother and baby, has been surrounded by ritual and religious ceremonies. A selection of baby clothes, maternity clothes and Christening robes as well as documents and photographs are on display in this section. Marriage is one of the milestones that has probably experienced the most change to its celebration in the last one hundred years. A great range of wedding dresses and other outfits is on display as well as fascinating information on wedding traditions and ceremonies and how Victorian customs became the ‘norm’ in the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
The examination of death includes a display of archaeological objects, a large horse drawn nineteenth century hearse, Victorian mourning clothes and information on funerals through time.
The exhibition is a thought provoking treatment of these key milestones in life and how our attitudes to them have changed,  as well as covering how some traditions have lasted down the centuries. The display is packed full of objects from the Museum’s diverse collections and is sure to be of interest to all ages. The exhibition is open until next summer and admission is free.
The vice- Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Councillor Garth Craig, officially opened the new exhibition and said ‘I am delighted to open this exhibition which is truly is a celebration of the diversity and quality of the museum’s collection.  A collection that has grown over the past 35 years, in large part, due to the generosity of the people of county Down.  This exhibition explores the changing traditions that surround the most significant milestones of our lives, that of birth, death and marriage.  Milestones have a universal appeal and connect us directly with the past as each generation experience these milestones with their own particular traditions, beliefs and ceremonies.’