Last Updated: February 15, 2022

Best Museums in Ireland (Dublin & Beyond)

Wondering which museums in Ireland you should visit? Then you’ve found the perfect guide for you!

We’ve selected the ten best museums in Ireland, which are a treat for those interested in the culture, history, and art of this European country. You’ll also see a few museums that are unique to the city of Dublin, and which are an absolute must if you’re an avid museum-goer who enjoys discovering new and exciting things.

Read on to learn more about all the best museums in Ireland, and see which ones seem the most fascinating for you!

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & Irish History

The National Museum of Ireland has four branches and the Decorative and History branch in the Arbour Hill area is easily one of the highlights of the museum. It boasts a vast collection of a variety of objects and artifacts related to decorative arts, Irish military history, and some of the core events from Irish history in general.

The National Museum of Ireland’s vast collection includes Irish silverware, currency, costumes, glassware, and much more. One of the exhibits is entirely dedicated to the Easter Rising of 1916, while another exhibit proudly showcases clothing and jewelry that were manufactured in Ireland over the past 250 years.

In addition to the many exhibits that chronicle the key events in Irish history, this popular museum also boasts an exhibit on Eileen Grey, the renowned Irish furniture designer. The items displayed at the museum were part of her personal collection and they were acquired from her Paris apartment.

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Image courtesy of Doug Kerr 

The Irish Museum of Modern Art is the chief institution in Ireland for both the collection and presentation of contemporary art. The museum is situated in western Dublin, and it’s the best museum in the entire country if you want to admire some spectacular modern art.

IMMA is housed inside Kilmainham’s Royal Hospital, which had functioned as a home for retired soldiers for about two and a half centuries. It was modeled on Paris’ Les Invalides, and it’s similarly arranged with a central courtyard that’s surrounded by buildings.

The architecture of the Royal Hospital is intriguing at the very least, but the artworks inside are much more interesting.

Waterford Treasures: The Medieval Museum

Waterford Treasures is Ireland’s only medieval museum. It’s situated in Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city, and it’s one of the six museums that are together known as the Waterford Treasures.

Since this is the only Irish museum dedicated specifically to medieval times, it’s certainly the most interesting museum in the complex. It boasts two original medieval chambers, as well as Henry VII’s only surviving piece of clothing, a chapeau gules (cap of maintenance).

The two medieval chambers in the museum are the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault and the 13th-century Cloisters. Both are an interesting sight but don’t expect too much from the museum tour.

If you’ve made it all the way to Waterford, it would be a shame not to visit the other Waterford Treasures museums as well. This currently includes the Irish Silver Museum, the Irish Museum of Time, Reginald’s Tower, Bishop’s Palace, and the Viking Museum.

National Museum of Ireland – Natural History

The Natural History branch of the National Museum of Ireland is one of the most popular history museums in Dublin. It boasts two permanent exhibits – one is on the Irish Fauna, and the other one is Mammals of the World.

The Irish Fauna exhibit covers in detail all the different animal species that can be found in Ireland, while the Mammals of the World exhibit focuses on all the species that aren’t common in the island country.

It’s worth noting that this popular museum often has temporary exhibitions as well. Previously, these included exhibits on the biodiversity of oceans, the theory of evolution, various bird species, and many more.

Admission to the Natural History Museum of Ireland is free, as is the case with all the other National Museum of Ireland branches.

Dublin Writers Museum

Dublin Writers Museum

The Dublin Writers Museum is situated in an 18th-century house on Parnell Square. The museum features a gallery, a library, and an administration area, while the museum’s annex boasts a bookshop and a coffee shop on one floor, as well as lecture rooms and exhibition halls on its other floors.

The museum was established to promote interest in Irish literature, as well as the works and personal lives of prominent Irish writers. The Dublin museum also acts as the main administrative center for all the individual museums that are dedicated to different Irish artists, such as James Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, and others.

The museum’s permanent exhibition includes various literary memorabilia, such as the Book of Kells, a phone owned by Samuel Beckett, the first edition of Dracula, and much more. The writers who are featured in this museum have made a lasting impact on Irish literature, or at the very least, they’re important for the city of Dublin in some way.

In any case, all fellow writers and linguists will certainly enjoy a trip to this quaint museum, regardless of whether they managed to get through Ulysses.

Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum of Dublin is a popular history museum that provides a fascinating insight into the history of the city of Dublin. It features exhibits on Dublin in the 20th century, with a variety of documents and objects that tell the various stories of Dublin and its residents in earlier times.

The museum’s collection includes exhibits on the 1916 Easter Rising, furniture and various household objects that were common in 20th century Dublin, and an exhibit on the visit of president J.F. Keneddy to the city of Dublin.

Additionally, this is one of Dublin’s best museums for all first-time visitors, thanks to its tourist greeter program. This civic initiative is known as the City of a Thousand Welcomes, and its main goal is to connect the tourists with a friendly local who is willing to take them out for a drink and introduce them to their hometown.

The Hunt Museum

The Hunt Museum is situated in a Georgian Custom House building, in Limerick, Ireland. It displays the personal collection of antiquarian John Hunt, which was donated to the museum by the Hunt family.

The museum’s collection includes fine art and antiquities that were collected by the famous antiquarian, but it’s not strictly an art museum. The Hunt Museum also has various history exhibits, including artifacts from the Stone Age, ancient Egypt, and Ireland.

Some of the most famous objects in the collection of the Hunt Museum include works by Yeats, Picasso, as well as an entire collection of dresses created by the famous Dublin-based designer, Sybil Connolly.

Chester Beatty Library

Chester Beatty Library

Image courtesy of William Murphy 

The Chester Beatty Library is a popular museum and library in the city of Dublin. The original museum was established back in 1950, as a place where the personal collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, the mining magnate, would be permanently displayed.

Today, the Chester Beatty Library is situated at Dublin Castle grounds, and in 2002, it won the award for the European Museum of the Year. Its collection is displayed in two galleries on the castle grounds, with both displays featuring prints, miniature paintings, manuscripts, drawings, rare books, and various decorative arts from quite a few cultures.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that this popular Dublin museum boasts one of the most important collections of Islamic, Western, East, and Southeast Asian objects, and it’s an absolute must if you want to explore some international cultures while you’re in Ireland.

The Chester Beatty Library often hosts temporary exhibitions as well, which usually display artifacts and collections that are on loan from other institutions.

Glasnevin Cemetery Museum

The Glasnevin Cemetery Museum is situated on the grounds of Ireland’s national cemetery. Its collection offers a deeper look into Irish history, as well as the role of the cemetery in some of the key events from the country’s rich history, such as the Easter Rising, the Civil War, and the War of Independence.

Also, it’s worth noting that was one of the first burial sites that opened after the law forbidding Irish Catholics to bury their dead in Irish cemeteries was repealed. In addition to the many Irish Catholics who are buried here, the Glasnevin Cemetery is also home to some iconic figures from Irish history.

A tour of the museum also includes a tour of the graves of the most famous people buried here, such as Charles Stewart Parnells, Maud Gonne, Daniel O’Connel, and many others. The tour guides also chronicle the stories of the many lesser-known people buried here, while the Dead Interesting Tour provides some surprisingly fun facts about a not-so-fun place as the cemetery.

National Museum of Ireland – Folk & Country Life

If you’re interested in learning more about the people of Ireland and their lives, then this branch of the National Museum of Ireland is an absolute must. It’s located at Turlough Park House, and it’s one of the most popular museums outside Dublin.

This popular museum in Ireland offers an insight into how rural Irish people lived in the previous centuries. Its collection includes a wide variety of objects on agriculture, architecture, trades, and crafts, as well as lots of domestic objects that were common in rural households.

The total collection of the Folk & Country Life branch of the National Museum of Ireland boasts more than 37,000 objects. Most of them are housed within the Turlough Park building, but some of the bulkier objects, most notably large machinery, are situated at the National Museum of Ireland’s research center in Dublin or at the NMI’s store in Daingean.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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