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Dublin’s Best Museums: From History to Art

Introduction to Dublin’s Museum Scene

Dublin is a vibrant destination for museum enthusiasts, offering a rich mix of historical, literary, and contemporary art experiences.


Historical Museums in Dublin

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland is a cornerstone of Dublin’s historical museum scene, comprising several branches that each tell distinct stories about Ireland’s past.

Archaeology Museum:

Significant Exhibits:

Stories Told: This museum delves into Ireland’s prehistoric and early medieval periods, providing a comprehensive view of the island’s development from ancient times through the Viking Age.

Decorative Arts & History Museum:

Significant Exhibits:

Stories Told: This museum explores Ireland’s social, political, and military history, emphasising the struggle for independence and the development of Irish national identity.

Natural History Museum:

Significant Exhibits:

The Irish Room: Features animals native to Ireland, such as the Irish elk and the giant deer.

Mammals of the World: Displays a wide range of animal species from around the globe, highlighting biodiversity.

Stories Told: Known as the “Dead Zoo,” this museum offers a glimpse into Ireland’s natural history and the broader natural world, educating visitors about wildlife and conservation.


Leading Art Museums and Galleries in Dublin

Hugh Lane Gallery

Located in Dublin’s city centre, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, originally called The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, houses one of Ireland’s foremost collections of modern and contemporary art. The original collection, donated by the Gallery’s founder Sir Hugh Lane in 1908, has now grown to include over 2000 artworks, ranging from the Impressionist masterpieces of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to works by leading national and international contemporary artists. The Gallery presents dynamic schedules of temporary exhibitions, seminars and public lectures, publications and educational projects.


Featured Artists:

Francis Bacon: The gallery features a reconstruction of Bacon’s London studio, providing a unique insight into the chaotic and creative environment of one of the 20th century’s most influential artists.

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) aims in all its activities to create for the public an enjoyable and engaging experience of contemporary art. It achieves this through a dynamic and changing programme of exhibitions and education programmes based in its home at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and working with partners nationally and internationally.  As the national institution for contemporary art IMMA is committed to supporting artists’ work and works with artists and partners to support the development, understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art in Ireland.


National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland is constantly adapting and changing to the needs of the art it houses, having added the Millennium Wing in 2002 and currently refurbishing two other wings. Allow yourself to be swept away by the colours of Harry Clarke, richness of Caravaggio and beauty of Yeats to name but a few.


Jack B. Yeats: As one of Ireland’s most important painters, Yeats is well-represented in the gallery with works that explore Irish life and landscape.

Balla Bán Art Gallery

Balla Bán (the Gaelic for ‘white wall’) fine art gallery is tucked away in the stylish surroundings of the Westbury Mall. Irish artist, Frank O’Dea opened the gallery in 2009, exhibiting quality, diverse and unique art pieces from both emerging and established contemporary Irish and European artists.

Call in for coffee and chats with Frank while you peruse the paintings on display. Or fall in love with a certain piece, purchase it and view at home for ever more!


Specialty Museums in Dublin

Dublin is home to several niche museums that offer unique and specialised experiences, each focusing on specific themes or subjects. These museums provide visitors with a deep dive into aspects of Irish culture, history, and folklore.

The Little Museum of Dublin

In the Little Museum they are obsessed with history, hospitality and humour. The museum captures these three things in a collection that was created by public donation. The Little Museum tells the remarkable story of the Irish capital. It was launched in 2011 with a public appeal for historic objects. The response to that appeal illustrates the generosity of the Irish people. Today there are over 5,000 artefacts in our collection.

Recently described as “Dublin’s best museum experience” by the Irish Times, the Little Museum has twice been voted as the number one museum in Ireland on the TripAdvisor website.

The National Leprechaun Museum

The National Leprechaun Museum takes visitors deep into Celtic culture and folklore to discover what really lies behind tales of leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold. Suitable for ages 7 years and up.

The first-ever visitor attraction dedicated to the world of Irish myth, the National Leprechaun Museum opens a world full of folklore and stories. A fairytale trek for adults and children (7 years and older), this interactive experience gives a deeper sense of Irish cultural identity and imagination.

Feel what it’s like to journey deep beneath the rocks of the Giant’s Causeway, open up your mind to the sights and stories of Ireland’s mythical Otherworld on a trip to fairy hill, experience what it’s like to 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 exists.

Chester Beatty Library

With free admission and described by the Lonely Planet as not just the best museum in Ireland, but one of the best in Europe, the Chester Beatty Library is a must-see on any Dublin visitor’s itinerary.  As the only museum in Ireland to win ‘European Museum of the Year’, the library’s rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world.

Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur’an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights on display. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day.

Irish Whiskey Museum

The Irish Whiskey Museum, the first Irish whiskey museum in the world! If you are searching for things to do in Dublin, this wonderful new Dublin Museum is located across from the main entrance of Trinity College, in the heart of Dublin city.

Join them on a journey through time, in a historic setting, where this fantastic museum unveils the intriguing tale of Irish whiskey.  An interactive ultra-modern experience offers an experience unlike any other in Dublin and celebrates the city’s unique whiskey distilling heritage.


Family-Friendly Museums in Dublin

Dublin offers a variety of museums that are perfect for children and families, featuring interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and educational programs designed to engage young minds and make learning fun.

The National Wax Museum Plus

The National Wax Museum Plus is a world of entertainment for kids young and old! Located over three floors, it will take you through a journey of mythology before educating the masses with a little Irish history and culture. The little ones will be enchanted at the kid’s zone while the young adults will be measured on the fear factor through the Horror Hotel. Wax works of your favourite celebrities and fictional characters will mean you might need some extra phone or camera storage so you can take as many selfies as you want.


Dublinia is one of Dublin’s top visitor attractions with three exciting exhibitions, Viking Dublin, Medieval Dublin and History Hunters! All located at the historic crossroads of old Dublin.

The Viking and Medieval Dublin exhibitions bring the city to life in an exciting and contemporary way for all ages. Unearth the city’s past at the History Hunters exhibition and see Dublin from a new perspective.

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

At EPIC they believe that Irish history should never be a long list of names and dates, it should be an experience. They have brought history to life like never before.

Now’s your chance to get hands-on with Irish culture and its past with their fully interactive museum – swipe through video galleries, challenge yourself with motion sensor quizzes, dance in the footsteps of legends, listen to remastered audio from 100 years ago and watch videos that bring Irish history to life. At EPIC you’ll discover the far-reaching influence of Irish history and the impact that the 10 million Irish men and women who left Ireland had on the world.


Local Insights

Dublin’s museums often host special events, temporary exhibitions, and family-friendly activities, particularly during holidays and school breaks. Checking museum websites for current events can enhance your visit. Also, many museums offer free admission on certain days or reduced rates for families, so it’s worth planning your trip accordingly to take advantage of these offers.

Concluding Thoughts

Whether you’re uncovering the intricate history of Ireland at the National Museum of Ireland, immersing yourself in contemporary art at The National Gallery, or enjoying the enchanting folklore at the Leprechaun Museum, there’s something to captivate everyone.