The Best Museums Worth Visiting in Dublin

| December 13, 2013

Dublin may be famous for its pub scene, but there is far more to the capital than Guinness and live music (though both of these are certainly worth checking out!). Visitors in search of art and culture may also want to explore the capital’s museums and art galleries. We take a look at four of the best.

1. National Museum of Ireland

National Museum of Ireland

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum has to be high on the list for any visitor. Divided into four sections, three (Archaeology, Decorative Arts and History and Natural History) can be found in Dublin, while the fourth (Country Life) is in Castlebar.

The Archaeology section has a fantastic range of exhibits, including the 8th century Ardagh Chalice and Tara Brooch, and the Derrynaflan Hoard, dating from around the same time. Exhibits include displays on prehistoric Ireland and the arrival of the Vikings, while there are also fascinating displays on bog bodies and other finds.

The Decorative Arts and History section has varied exhibits, including weapons and furniture, jewellery and costumes, glassware and ceramics.

The Natural History section has undergone extensive renovations and has some superb exhibitions focusing on Irish flora and fauna. Interactive exhibits allow visitors to learn about evolution and conservation, as well as taxidermy and other processes.

The Country Life section in Castlebar is a three hour drive from Dublin and makes a great day trip. Set in contemporary exhibition galleries amidst the beautiful landscaped grounds of Turlough Park House, the museum has four floors of exhibits, including folk crafts, costumes, furniture and machinery. You can book car hire Dublin airport to get over to Castlebar.

2. The National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery has an extensive range of artwork, with over 2500 paintings and 10000 other items. Founded in 1854, the museum represents artists from around Europe and holds a fine collection of Irish paintings. The original building is complemented by the modern Millennium Wing, which opened in 2002.

Some of the finest works include portraits by Hugh Douglas Hamilton and William Orpen, paintings by 18th century artist James Barry, and works by landscape and figure painter (and Olympic medallist) Jack B. Yeats.

French artists represented include Nicolas Poussin, Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet, while there are also works from Italian artists Caravaggio and Canaletto, German Emil Nolde, and Rembrandt and Vermeer amongst other Dutch painters.

3. Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Those looking for a slice of modern art could do far worse than to head to IMMA. It is Ireland’s premier gallery for modern and contemporary art, with over 3500 artworks representing various schools, countries and time periods.

Originally established in 1990, IMMA is housed in the superb 17th century building of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, and has recently reopened after a period of renovation. The stables have been expanded and converted into artists’ studios and there is an artist in residence programme along with various talks and other events. Artworks are housed in a series of dynamic and interesting exhibitions.

4. Dublin Writers MuseumDublin Writers Museum

Dublin has plenty of smaller museums and galleries alongside the National Museum, National Gallery and IMMA. One of the more interesting is the Dublin Writers Museum, which is a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s renowned literary history. The museum represents writers from over three centuries, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats.

As well as a selection of rare books, there are also exhibits on writers’ lives and works, portraits of Irish writers by renowned artists, and various fascinating miscellaneous items, from pens and typewriters to desks and telephones

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