Most people think of drinking in pubs in the Temple Bar area when you visit Dublin, but there is a great deal of arts and culture you can see while you are touring in Dublin. Not to mention all the free things you can do here too. Did you know that there are nine FREE museums in Dublin that you can visit all year round? They all offer unique insights into irish history, arts and culture. Here is the list of free museums in Dublin – what they offer, and what you need to look out for at each spot.
- Natural history museum
This is one of the most under-rated museums here in Dublin. It is also known as ‘the dead zoo’, this is because all the displays are replica’s or taxidermied. The best part of this museum is you really get to see upclose, the sheer size of some of these animals. Another fun fact is that if you are a fan of the TV-series ‘Penny Dreadful’ – a part of season three is shot at this museum. We really enjoyed walking around and looking at all the displays, the space is huge and if you get there early in the morning over a weekend, it can be a quiet place to explore.
- National print museum
This is a small museum, but definitely not to be missed. You can view all the old print methods, and how printing has evolved through the years. You can also view the 1916 proclamation on a similar print machine that was used to print this proclamation. Another great part of this museum is the coffee shop next store. It is in a glass atrium to the one side of the museum and is the perfect spot for a meal or just a coffee and a slice of home-made cake.
- National museum of decorative arts
Decorative Arts & History is home to a wide range of objects, which include weaponry, furniture, silver, ceramics and glassware; as well as examples of folk life and costume. To be honest, this is not a museum we have visited yet. I know we will eventually get there, but it just doesn’t really interest me at present to go, but hey, it is free to enter so why not just check it out for yourself?
- National museum of archaeology
Warning: this museum is HUGE. You need a full day to really explore it from top to bottom. There is so much to see here. The main reason I wanted to visit this particular museum is to visit the bog bodies exhibition. In 2003, Iron Age bog bodies were discovered at Oldcroghan, Co. Offaly and Clonycavan, Co. Meath. A bog body is a human cadaver that has been naturally mummified in a peat bog. An excerpt taken from the museum’s website says: “The exhibition is based around the theory that human sacrifice and the deposition of the victims in bogs along tribal boundaries is related to sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age.” I found the exhibition was packed with information, and found it very interesting to learn more about the reasons why these bog bodies came to be.
- Irish museum of modern art
Another large museum that deserves a bit more time to explore is the Irish Museum of Modern Art. We visited it after we went to see Kilmainham Gaol – since the two are right across the street from one another. In hindsight, we needed more time to explore this museum. There are several exhibition areas allowing you to experience contemporary art, and these change every few months or so. Give yourself at least a few hours to walk around, plus the onsite cafe downstairs serves up pretty good food if you get a bit hungry.
- Pearse Museum
We learnt about Patrick Pearse when we did the cemetery tour at Glasnevin Cemetery. Patrick Pearse had quite an interesting life. He was first an educationalist, who believed there was more to education than just focusing on exams and tests. But he is more commonly remembered as a nationalist who was executed for his part in the 1916 Rising. The museum is a story about his life, as well as his brother William, and I found it a very interesting place to visit. It is also where Robert Emmet’s execution block is on display.
- James Joyce Tower & Museum
This was one of the first museums we visited, and it is in Dun Laoghaire. The museum is free to visit, and as museum’s go – it is small. I mostly enjoyed getting to see what the inside of a Martello tower looks like. The British built 50 Martello towers along the Irish coastline as part of their defense against Napoleon. It is about as tall as two floors and has a tiny staircase inside that winds it’s way to the top. The view at the top of the tower is a real treat. On a clear day you can see Howth.
- Science Gallery
Where science and art collide – this museum has a new exhibition every 4 months. It is a small space, that offers visitors an interactive and thought provoking journey combining science and facts with art and creativity. We went a few months ago to the ‘Humans need not apply’ display which talked about the current progress artificial intelligence has made, along with what the future could look like as AI evolves and grows. I enjoyed the exhibition space, and it was small enough to navigate and explore within a few hours, and still leave time to explore other parts of Dublin on the same day.
- Chester Beatty Library
Don’t let the name confuse you, this is no ordinary library. It is described by Lonely Planet to not just be the best museum in Dublin but one of the best in Europe. The library is free to visit, and holds things like manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts. It is behind Dublin Castle, next to the Dublin memorial garden -which is perfect for a coffee and chat while taking in the garden view.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MUSEUM TO VISIT?
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