Dublin’s Main Museums
The National Gallery - A 5 minute walk from Number 31, the National Gallery features a superb and surprising collection. Renaissance Italian paintings bump up against old Dutch masters, Picasso's rub elbows with El Greco's and German Romantics. Georgian period portraits - Gainsborough and Reynolds - and, of course, the Irish greats are a particular strength. A new wing is devoted to Jack Yeats' amazing works.
The National Museum - The National Museum in Dublin is split between three great institutions. First and foremost is the Archaeology Museum which features such master treasures as the Ardagh Chalice, the Lismore Crozier and the Tara Brooch. Europe's largest collection of prehistoric gold objects are fetchingly displayed, Viking and Medieval finds and even a surprisingly strong Egyptian collection are all available. This not-to-be-missed museum is only 5 minutes walk from Number 31.
The National Museum of Decorative Arts & History collection is displayed in the oldest military barracks in Europe. This is the nation's attic. Everything from porcelain to silver tea sets, medieval coins to precision muskets and tanks are on display. It's 25 minute walk along the Liffey River from Number 31, or take the Luas tram or any bus heading to Heuston train station.
The Natural History Museum is the world's finest remaining example of a tradtional Victorian museum. All native animals are displayed in traditional cases and you can open hundreds of drawers of carefully skewered beetles and butterflies. This antiquarian's delight always thrills the kids. Reopened after refurbishment, this is a museum whose greatest attraction is the museum itself. It is on the same block as the National Gallery - just a five minute hop, walk and shuffle from Number 31.
Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery was the first modern art museum in the British Isles. The Impressionists are strongly represented (be sure to catch Renoir's adroit painting of a water nymph dissolving into her liquid medium). And its worth a special trip to Dublin just to view Harry Clarke's masterpiece fairy tale stained glass window. This is perhaps the finest stained glass art work ever created. 20 minutes walk from Number 31.
Near Dublin are Glendalough Valley with its ancient monastic settlement and round tower amidst the Wicklow Mountains National Park. Also nearby are the amazing prehistoric monuments at Newgrange and Tara.
More Great Museums You Shouldn't Miss
Chester Beatty Library - Located in a lovely new building within the grounds of Dublin Castle, this jewel of a place features manuscripts and scrolls and illuminated masterpieces from around the globe. Each presentation is enhanced by videos and objects d'art that explain and expand on the societies and their written works. The Arabic collection is particularly strong, there's also a full Durer engravings collection, as well as displays of art from Japan, China, Persia, Tibet, Medieval Europe and everywhere else. 15 minutes walk from Number 31. European Museum of the Year.
Irish Museum of Modern Art - You'll want to take a bus or Luas tram to this one. If you're feeling fit, t's a doable 30 minute walk, just uphill from Heuston train station. The permanent collection is okay, but the bulk of the museum is devoted to rotating exhibitions of modern artisits from around the planet. As an example, Georgia O'Keefe and Andy Warhol featured in recent exhibitions, but most of the artists represented are contemporary and edgy. The museum occupies the old Royal Kilmainham Hospital and just walking around the grounds is a treat. The grounds include a lovely Georgian style formal garden.
Dublin Writer's Museum - Ireland has produced four Nobel prize winners and this magnificent eighteenth century mansion in the north city centre celebrates the island's literary tradition. Books, letters and portraits bring to life Swift, Sheridan, Shaw and Wilde, Yeats, Joyce and Beckett. A 20 minute walk from Number 31.
Book of Kells Museum - This is without a doubt the most fabulous treasure of Ireland. Located in the heart of lovely Trinity College in the center of the city and only a 10 minute walk from Number 31, this museum brilliantly explains the creation of illuminated manuscripts by the early medieval monks. But, the best part is the Book of Kells itself, a transcendant work of art that took generations to produce. Stick your nose up close and lose yourself in the intricate swirls and images. A staggering masterpiece. And, for a suitable encore, you exit the museum through The Long Room, a work of art in itself that houses 200,000 old and rare books.
Other Dublin Art Galleries
The Green Gallery - Top floor, St Stephens Green Shopping centre.
Graphic Studio Dublin Gallery - Beside the Arch, Temple Bar.
Gallery of Photography - Meeting House Square, Temple Bar.
Oisín Gallery - 44 Westland Row, Dublin 2
Temple Bar Gallery and Studios - 5-9 Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Boulevard Gallery - This is an open air gallery in which local artists sell their work during the summer weekends. Located on Merrion Sq in the City Centre.