5 Great Dublin Museums to visit this summer

By Sean Barrett / June 21, 2021
Dublin-Museums

The phrase “you don’t appreciate something until it’s gone” never sounded more accurate than when the Covid-19 pandemic struck our shores in March of last year. Nonetheless, we have been fortunate in that we have been afforded the opportunity to explore our small island due to our inability to leave it. And, now, there is no better way to experience our little nation than by visiting its museums, which are rich in artistic and cultural splendour.

Museums are public institutions that serve the public good. They engage visitors, encourage greater knowledge, and encourage the enjoying and sharing of authentic cultural and natural heritage. The physical and intangible evidence of society and nature is acquired, preserved, researched, interpreted, and displayed by museums. So, here’s a list of 5 Dublin museums that you should visit this summer.

The Chester Beatty Library

Discover treasures of exceptional quality and beauty from throughout the world as you travel through continents, cultures, and communities. This award-winning museum situated in the eighteenth-century Clock Tower building on the grounds of Dublin Castle features a rich and diverse collection of miniature paintings, decorative arts, manuscripts, prints, and drawings from Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, an American mining tycoon and philanthropist, presented them all to the Irish people.

The Chester Beatty Museum is the first Irish museum to have won the European Museum of the Year award. Its unique treasures span ages, continents, and civilisations, providing visitors with a fascinating glimpse of worldwide artistic legacies. In addition, visitors can self-guide their visit by downloading a free audio tour in six languages (English, Irish, French, German, Italian, and Spanish).

Great Dublin Museum

The National Leprechaun Museum

The National Leprechaun Museum is the first museum dedicated exclusively to the extravagant realms of Irish myths and legends. It opens up a world of folklore and stories to all. This interactive experience delivers a more profound sense of Irish cultural identity and creativity to adults and children alike.

Experience what it’s like to travel deep beneath the Giant’s Causeway’s rock formation or open your mind to the sights and stories of Ireland’s mythical Otherworld on a trip to Fairyhill, live as a leprechaun in a people-sized world, and follow the end of the rainbow to see if the elusive crock of gold really does exist. Although it may seem corny from the outset, The Leprechaun Museum quickly brings you back to a child-like world of mystery and wonder. 

Due to Covid, some changes have been made to the museum. The decreased capacity of each tour to a maximum of 6 persons helps physical distancing, but there are now new facilities allowing you to pre-book your tickets online, ensuring your place. 

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The National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland was founded in 1854 and opened in January 1864 in Dublin’s city centre, between Trinity College and Merrion Square. There are around 2,500 paintings and 10,000 more works in different artistic mediums, including watercolours, drawings, prints, and sculptures.  Every major European school of art is well represented in these halls. It also has a well-known collection of Irish paintings, the bulk of which are on display at all times.

The Yeats Archives, which include works by Jack B. Yeats, his father John Butler Yeats, and other creative family members, are housed in the Gallery. Frederic William Burton’s artwork “The Meeting on Turret Stairs” can also be found in the National Gallery of Ireland. This beautiful painting was recently given the moniker of Ireland’s favourite painting.

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The IMMA

With its adjacent formal gardens and a vast meadowland, IMMA is one of Ireland’s most exciting and contemporary exhibitions for modern art, housed in the 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham. IMMA is a public campus that brings together modern living and modern art. This museum, which features work by some of Ireland’s most celebrated creative pioneers, offers a diverse range of artistic media for anyone to appreciate, ranging from photography and portraiture to interactive installations. The IMMA is available to the public six days a week. On Mondays, however, the museum is closed.

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The Natural History Museum – The Dead Zoo

The Natural History Museum on Merrion Street originally opened to the public in 1857, just two years before Charles Darwin wrote his renowned study, ‘The Origin of Species”. It teaches and inspires us now, as it did before, leaving us feeling small and humbled in the presence of the enormous and incredible diversity of life on exhibit. Dubliners affectionately referred to this particular institution as the “Dead Zoo” during its initial inception. although little has changed in terms of nicknames in 150 years.

Two million species, nearly half of which are insects, coexist alongside decorated and sculpted panels representing legendary creatures, as befitting a natural history museum. This zoological museum houses exceptional examples of animals from Ireland and other world regions, some of which may still be found today and others that are long extinct.

With the polished wood, antique brass fittings, and glass cases, you get the feeling of being engulfed in the cosiness of a friendly old pub. But this isn’t a pub, it’s a place of learning or, to be more exact, the “Dead Zoo.”

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Dublin is a modest-sized city with a lot of beauty and history, and, this summer, more than any other, we have the opportunity to discover it without having to join long queues of international visitors. So, why don’t you take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about the country you live in and visit some of its most famous museums? 

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About the author

Sean Barrett

Sean is a 2nd-year politics student in UL (University of Limerick) who loves all things history related; Sean enjoys writing articles on Pop culture, history, art and music. You can find him on Twitter @SeanieBarrettJr

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