Executive hopes Belfast museum telling story of 1912 ship will attract 400,000 visitors each year

The Northern Ireland executive has signed off £43m to support the development of a £97m museum at the heart of the Titanic Quarter in Belfast.

The executive said the scheme, due to start on site early next year, will employ 600 people, providing a boost to the country's construction industry.

The museum, known as the Titanic signature project, is designed to be an iconic building telling the story of the creation of the Titanic ocean liner, which the executive hopes will attract 400,000 visitors to the area each year.

It is to be set at the end of the original boat slipways which launched the Titanic on its fateful 1912 voyage. This is in the heart of the 185-acre Titanic Quarter regeneration area, in which developers plan to build 7,500 flats and 900,000m2 of office space.

The cash injection was required after the project missed out on receiving funding from the Big Lottery Fund in 2007. Arlene Foster, the tourism minister, said: “At a time when the Northern Ireland construction industry is under significant pressure this project will deliver a much needed boost to the sector.”

The executive said the building would be completed in 2012.