Orange Order museum in Belfast welcomes 5,000 visitors
The Orange Order's museum in east Belfast has seen 5,000 visitors march through its doors since opening in the summer, it can be revealed.
The institution said the Cregagh Road facility is proving popular with the wider public and tourists as it aims to promote shared space and reconciliation.
The landmark number was passed at the weekend as a large community group from Roscommon visited Orange headquarters.
The museum - an extension to the Order's Schomberg House HQ- displays a wealth of items and artefacts relating to the history of Orangeism across the world.
The new state-of-the-art building contains a lecture theatre and interactive educational space, with particular access for school and cross-community-focused visits. The museum also includes a replica lodge room, a research facility, shop space and a café.
Orange grand master Edward Stevenson said: "Having reached such a significant landmark in such a short timeframe, it is clear that the Museum of Orange Heritage is proving to be a cultural resource and attraction for the entire community.
"Visitor numbers to date have included people from all over the world as well as many different parts of Northern Ireland."
Museum curator Dr Jonathan Mattison said: "We are delighted with the number of people who have been taking the time to learn more about the Orange tradition.
"The Museum of Orange Heritage offers visitors the opportunity to learn and engage with a rich, vibrant and evolving tradition that has played a significant role in Irish, British and world history."
Another museum, focusing on the origins of Orangeism, is located at Sloan's House in Loughgall, Co Armagh. It has welcomed upwards of 3,000 visitors since also opening in the summer. The Loughgall building - where the first Orange warrants were signed over 200 years ago - includes a major extension.
Both facilities are open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday. The Belfast museum's opening hours are 10am to 5pm, while Loughgall is open from 10am to 4pm.