Dublin Digs: The National Museum of Ireland, IMG Cred: Amy Wiener

The National Museum!

The National Museum of Ireland is a great place to spend a few hours and learn about Irish culture and history and see one of kind artifacts from all over Ireland, Europe and Asia.

The Museum itself is located in Dublin Barracks built in 1702, now named, Collins Barracks, after Michael Collins, the first Irish Provisional Governor when Ireland became a free state in 1922.  Both British armed forces and later the Irish army have been stationed here since its inception until it became a museum in the late ‘90s.  The main leaders of the Irish Rebellion against Great Britain in 1798 were imprisoned and later executed here, and the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising are buried just behind it in the Arbour Hill Cemetery.

The Museum’s tribute to Irish military history and the long and assiduous battle for independence is very thorough and interesting.  Presenting a wealth of historic information and supplementing the details with artifacts, this exhibit is thoroughly informative and especially meaningful considering the significance of its location.  The museum also has an extensive exhibit on Ireland’s military equipment, with tanks and plane replicas from the First World War to present day, as well as recreated “Barracks Life,” which are displays of military housing dating back centuries.

My personal favorite exhibit was the Curator’s Choice section, housing the most beautiful and well preserved pieces of furniture and items from around the world.   Each item is accompanied by a description of why the curator chose the piece to exhibit in the premier section.  The Fleetwood Cabinet, a gift from Oliver Cromwell to his daughter for her wedding is on display here, as well as one of the oldest pieces of Chinese porcelain to ever reach Europe and a dress accompanied by a photograph of the woman who owned it, wearing it!

The museum also has an Out of Storage section to show the wide range of items from the Art and Industrial Collection, an Airgead section of thousands of years of Irish coins and currency, an Irish Silver section, which holds one of the largest collections in the world, a Scientific Instruments Section, an Irish Period Furniture display, which is divided into five periods, an Eileen Gray section, based on her life and work, another called The Way we wore it, which presents 250 years of Irish clothing and jewelry, and an Irish Country Furniture section, as well as many rotating exhibits which change regularly.

The museum offers guided tours daily, as well as group tours and an education and outreach program.  Admission to the museum is free, as it is to all Irish national museums.

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photo: Amy Wiener

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