Museums & Galleries
With such a rich and varied history, it's no wonder the museums and galleries are captivating places to visit
- You’ll be spoiled for choice with a flurry of provocative and beautiful modern art at The Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which is housed within the stunning Royal Hospital Kilmainham.
- The National Gallery houses an impressive collection of Irish Art and European masters, while the exquisite Chester Beatty Library carries a renowned collection of sacred texts, illuminated manuscripts, and miniature paintings from the world’s great religions and belief systems.
- The National Museum of Natural History dates back to 1857 and with over two million specimens from Ireland and all over the world, it’s a great place to bring the kids.
- The National Museum of Ireland Archeology and History again houses over two million artifacts ranging in date from 7000BC to the late medieval period. Among the exhibitions is the finest collection of prehistoric gold artifacts in Western Europe.
- The more recently opened National Museum of Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barricks includes a wide range of objects including weaponry, furniture, silver, ceramics, glasswear and costumes.
- Literary types should head to the Dublin Writers Museum and the James Joyce Museum in the South County Dublin suburb of Sandycove.
- Try City Hall, which opened in 1906 and is celebrating its centenary in 2006. Its crowning features are the main dome with a whispering gallery and the grand staircase designed in three types of Italian marble.
- The Ulster Museum is located beside Belfast’s Botanic Gardens, and offers a visual feast of fine and decorative arts, from paintings and sculptures, to stunning displays of glass and ceramics.
- Once a linen warehouse, The Linen Hall Library is a unique institution. Founded in 1788, it is the oldest library in Belfast. Containing 250,000 items in the NI Political Collection, the definitive archive of the recent troubles, it is also home to a collection of books by and about CS Lewis.
- Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra Museum illustrates Ulster life past and present. The Folk Museum invites visitors to a typical Ulster town of the early 1900s, letting them stroll through its farms, cottages, crops and livestock.
- Belfast Exposed was established in 1983, and is Northern Ireland's only dedicated photography gallery. Housing a 20x7m gallery for contemporary photography and the production of socially and politically engaged work, dialogue is the driving force behind all aspects of Belfast Exposed.
Around the country
Step outside the capital cities and you won’t be short of something cultural to fill your time with.
- Limerick is an excellent place to head for with the Hunt Museum, which contains one of Ireland’s greatest collections of private art including pieces from Renoir, Picasso and Yeats. The Limerick City Gallery of Art, meanwhile, houses a good collection of Irish Art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
- Make sure to stop off at Castlebar, County Mayo and pay a trip to the National Museum of Ireland County Life. It’s the only branch of the Republic of Ireland’s national museums to be located outside of Dublin and portrays the life of ordinary people who lived in Ireland from 1850-1950.
- Most of Ireland’s counties have their own museums and all are worth the trip to find out about the history and heritage of the places you’re visiting. The Kerry County Museum, and the Cavan County are great examples of these fascinating local museums.
- Northern Ireland has a great selection of museums with a really broad appeal including the Ulster American Folk Park on the outskirts of Omagh, the Sperrin Heritage Centre, Plumbridge and the Armagh County Museum.
- Learn all about the history of one of Ireland’s most important crafts at the Irish Linen Centre in Lisburn, while the St Patrick’s Trian Visitor Complex, Armagh City is a great way of finding out all you need to know about Ireland’s Patron Saint.
- And finally, if you’re in Londonderry, make sure to pop into the award-winning Tower Museum and enjoy the new exhibition displaying artifacts from a sunken Spanish Armada ship.