Imagine a wall plastered with the posters of all the parties to the Northern Ireland conflict during the three decades of “the Troubles.” It is of course inconceivable in a divided world of one-sided walls where parties tend to mark their own terrain. Except, that is, in Belfast’s historic Linen Hall Library, where the “Troubled Images” exhibition created new space for all sides of the community in October 2001.
The Linen Hall Library, founded in 1788, was the only institution that set out to collect material from all parties to the Northern Ireland conflict at the very outset in 1968. Since the early 1990s, the Political Collection has systematically amassed material on the ongoing peace process. Today the Political Collection contains 250,000 items.
Yvonne Murphy, Librarian of the Northern Ireland Political Collection, describes the Political Collection:
“The Northern Ireland Political Collection is a unique resource. No other institution in a localized conflict has systematically collected material from all sides--much less collected it, often literally, across the barricades. The Political Collection documents the activities of all parties to the conflict, from paramilitaries to government. It covers publications by organizations on the margins of the direct political process as well as those concerned with social issues. A large number of these items are held by the Political Collection alone….
“For the past thirty years, the poster collection and artefacts of the Northern Ireland Political Collection have been accessible only to those who can visit the Library. Housed in large drawers or cabinets, the material has been difficult to consult….It is intended that the images included [in the exhibition]…represent as wide a range of opinion as possible on the major events, issues, and individuals of the past four decades. In the tradition of the Northern Ireland Political Collection, we have tried to ensure that the information we compile is accurate, balanced and inclusive, and that the terminology used is neutral and objective….”
View posters on the Troubled Images exhibit web site.
Read an article about the exhibit, published in the Hoover Digest.