Monday, January 18, 2010

Ulster Museum - a help cord you'd never reach and an emergency door that doesn't look like it would open?

So Littl’un and I retraced familiar steps on Saturday afternoon, walking up the steps, through the steel snail sculpture and into the sub-tropical climate of the Ulster Museum. Like all new buildings, there are obviously bits still waiting to be finished – like the scribbled writing on the walls above some of the projectors – as well as things starting to suffer from early life failures like one of the chair lifts.

There’s something odd – perhaps alarmingly unsafe – about the glass doors at the far end of the ground floor. As the pair of us sat demolishing a healthy chocolate muffin, lots of people came up to the glass double doors and tried to push them open to get out into Botanic Gardens. But they just rattled, locked no matter which door people pushed.

It was then that I noticed the fire exit sign hanging above the door, indicating that in the event of an emergency, straight ahead – through the locked doors – is a route out of the building. Except they’re locked. No push bar.

Ulster Museum - locked emergency exit?

Now some doors have fancy fittings that automatically fail open whenever an alarm is triggered. If this set of doors has such magic, it’s well hidden. (And normally such doors have a notice fitted to explain that they’ll open in the event of the alarm sounding.) Instead, it looks like these ones are locked and unlocked with a key.

I did report it to a member of staff at the time – who looked quite concerned about it – so hopefully it’s fixed (or officially known to be magic) by now. Update - the door should have been open.

Emergency help cord tied up with cable tie near ceiling

I’m sure I’ll get told off for using the disabled toilet.

But you try taking a five year old girl to the loo in the male toilets and squeezing two of you into a cubicle – or surviving the glares as you queue up and wait for one to be free!

While in there I couldn’t help noticing the emergency pull cord.

Neatly coiled up and secured with a cable tie, well out of reach of anyone sitting on the toilet. Now I don’t make a habit of taking photos inside toilets, but ...

Emergency help cord tied up near the ceiling ... out of reach

Who? What? Why? When?

Update - According to the museum, "the pull-cord in the disabled toilet has been fixed – with over 170,000 visitors it’s hard to believe this hasn’t been spotted before."

Other than that, Takabuti was still asleep in her case, William Crawley was booming out short talks from the video wall cycling through an abbreviated Blueprint programme, and while the Discover Art room had finally run out of Scully sheets to colour in, they did keep us entertained winding wool around cardboard to be stapled up onto their the display.

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