Exploring IMMA: Your Essential Guide to the Irish Museum of Modern Art

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If you’re an art enthusiast like me, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is a must-visit. Nestled in the heart of Dublin, it’s a treasure trove of contemporary and modern art that’ll leave you awe-inspired.

In this article, I’ll be taking you on a virtual tour of IMMA, showcasing its stunning architecture, diverse collections and captivating exhibitions. We’ll delve into the history of the museum, explore its educational programmes and even get a peek into some of its most talked-about art installations.

History of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Delving deeper into the fascinating world of modern art, let’s pivot to the illustrious history of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). It’s a tale well worth telling for anyone with a keen interest in history, architecture, or culture.

Establishment and Location

It’s in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, where the IMMA has been attracting modern art enthusiasts from all corners of the globe since its inauguration. The museum was officially opened to the public on 25th May 1991, making it a relatively new and vibrant addition to the city’s rich cultural landscape.

The IMMA is strategically located in sprawling grounds around the historic Royal Hospital Kilmainham. This 17th-century building is steeped in history, having served various purposes over the centuries, from a retirement home for veterans to a state-of-the-art gallery for modern art. Today, it is one of Dublin’s leading tourist attractions.

Building and Architecture

When it comes to the building itself, the IMMA is an architectural marvel. It’s housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, which is the finest example of 17th-century architecture in Ireland. Built in 1684 by Sir William Robinson, the then-Surveyor General in Ireland, this was Ireland’s first building to carry the classical style of architecture.

The design of Royal Hospital Kilmainham was based upon Les Invalides in Paris. The main building consists of four ranges around a courtyard, with an impressive chapel behind. It’s these French baroque elements that give the site its unique architectural character. Coupled with modern installations, it provides visitors with an exciting blend of history, architecture, and art. But it doesn’t end there. It’s interesting to see how the IMMA has managed to preserve the historical authenticity of the site while turning it into a beacon of contemporary art.

The IMMA ensures that the inherent beauty of the building isn’t overshadowed by the art it houses. Rather, the structure itself becomes a piece of art on display. It’s a refreshing take on how traditional and modern elements can be meshed together, breathing new life into a centuries-old structure. This seamless integration of the old with the new is what truly sets the IMMA apart. It makes a compelling case for infusing modern elements into historical structures as a way to preserve cultural heritage while pushing the boundaries of modern architectural and artistic expressions.

Collection at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

A grand architecture is not the only enchantment at IMMA. Here, we dive deeper into the heart of the museum, the very core reason of its existence – the mesmerising collection of art. Irrespective of whether you’re a true art connoisseur or someone who enjoys a leisurely stroll amidst artistic expressions, IMMA’s collection will surely captivate your senses.

Permanent Collection

IMMA houses one of Ireland’s most extraordinary collections of contemporary and post-war art. The museum’s permanent collection totals over 3,500 pieces, collected since its founding in 1991. This stunning compilation spans various genres including painting, sculpture, photography, performance art, installations, and new media.

The museum has a special focus on Irish art and is committed to showcasing works from pioneering Irish artists like Louis le Brocquy, Dorothy Cross, and Sean Scully. However, artistic brilliance from around the world finds a place in IMMA as well. Make sure you tour the entire spectrum, from Claes Oldenburg’s conceptual art to the progressive installations by Mona Hatoum or the evocative portraits painted by Alex Katz.

Temporary Exhibitions

While the permanent collection is an intrinsic part of IMMA, it’s the temporary exhibitions that truly demonstrate the museum’s dynamic, evolving nature. These exhibitions keep the museum fresh and exciting, offering visitors a different experience with every visit.

IMMA hosts a robust calendar of temporary exhibitions each year, re-defining the art scene in Ireland. Top-notch international and local artists have their works exhibited on a rotating basis, introducing the Irish public to cutting-edge art trends globally. These temporary showcases usually feature brand new arts or specific thematic collections. Some of the notable exhibits to grace the halls of IMMA have been retrospectives of Lucian Freud and Nan Goldin’s photographic installations.

Visiting the museum presents an amazing opportunity for immersion into an enclave of artistic expressions, tracing the trajectory of the art world from the bygone post-war era right up to the most contemporary techniques.

Highlights of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Existence in the art-sphere is taken to another level when we investigate the Highlights of the IMMA. Offering myriad experience to the visitors, the museum is more than just a warehouse of art. Offering a deep-dive into the art world, the highlights take form as famous artworks, awe-inspiring exhibitions and notable artists.

Famous Artworks

IMMA’s impressive collection showcases various iconic artworks that have left their imprint over the years. A few that particularly stand out would be Andy Warhol’s “Silver Clouds” and Joseph Beuys’ “Erweiterter Kunstbegriff”. Warhol’s piece, an installation made of floating helium-filled silver balloons, effortlessly crosses the boundary between the artwork and the viewer by literally inhabiting the same space. Contrastingly, Beuys’ work is a collection of blackboards capturing his thoughts and ideas during one of his famous “social sculpture” lectures. Both these pieces shed unconventional perspectives on art, encouraging the viewer to think outside the box.

Famous Artworks Artist
Silver Clouds Andy Warhol
Erweiterter Kunstbegriff Joseph Beuys

Notable Artists

The realm of modern art is known for its innovative artists. IMMA has had the privilege of housing works from a plethora of notable artists, including the legendary Lucian Freud and Nan Goldin. Freud, one of the finest realist painters of the 20th century, is remembered for his intense and unsettling nude portraits. On the other hand, Goldin’s raw and brutal photography delves into issues like LGBT rights, drug use, and violence. The juxtaposition of their works at IMMA represents the contrasts and diversities within the modern art scene.

Notable Artists Known for
Lucian Freud Realist Paintings

Programs and Events at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

The Irish Museum of Modern Art doesn’t limit its distinctive charm to the immobile pieces of art it houses. It’s also vibrant with a series of educational and stimulating programs, workshops and events which are specifically designed to expand the horizons of its visitors.

Art Workshops

IMMA provides a space where creativity burgeons even outside the frame. Art Workshops at the museum are a lively mix of practical workspace and theoretical study, facilitating a well-rounded understanding of the modern art landscape. These unique hand-on experiences are open to all, irrespective of age or skill level. Critiquing sessions lend an open platform for discourse and absorbing diverse interpretations. This makes every workshop not just a learning curve, but also an exchange of ideas that foster creative growth.

Artist Talks and Lectures

Modern art, often shrouded in a veil of subjective interpretation, is gently demystified through the recurring Artist Talks and Lectures at IMMA. It’s an opportunity for the aesthetes to connect directly with the creators, gaining surprising insights into their artistic processes, influences and the stories behind their creation. These talks aren’t restricted to the geographical confines of Ireland, often featuring celebrated artists from around the world who share their unique perspectives.

Film Screenings and Performances

One sure way to defy the stereotype that museums are hushed, solemn places is the lively Film Screenings and Performances that are regular features at IMMA. The museum’s agenda attests its aim to present modern art in its most engaging formats. These events include a good mix of classic and contemporary films related to art, live performances, and even multimedia presentations. Each screening and performance aims to provide a richer context to the visual art forms on display, enhancing the overall visitor experience at IMMA.

Fuelled by creativity and driven by a perpetual essence of artistic revolution, IMMA takes the initiative to bring the nuances of modern art closer to the people. Be it through hands-on experiences, direct interaction with the artists or live performances, this Irish museum has got it all down to an art.

Visiting the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

In this leg of our journey, we’ll explore what you need to know before visiting the IMMA. From opening hours to ticket prices and facilities, I’ll give you the scoop on everything to ensure an unforgettable IMMA experience.

Opening Hours

One of the fantastic things about the IMMA is its accessibility. Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you’ll be able to find time to visit this treasure of modern art. The museum operates from Tuesday to Sunday. On Tuesdays, it’s open from 10 am to 5 pm but on Wednesday to Saturday, you have until 7 pm to indulge in the artistic marvels on offer. To wrap up the week, it’s open on Sunday from 12 pm to 5 pm. Do note, however, that galleries commence clearing 15 minutes before closing time.

Days Opening Hours
Tuesday 10 am – 5 pm
Wed-Saturday 10 am – 7 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm
Monday Closed

Admission and Tickets

IMMA offers you access to the world of modern art without burning a hole in your pocket. General admission to the museum’s permanent collection is absolutely free. However, some special exhibitions and events come with an admission fee. You can purchase tickets for these at the museum’s admission desk or online at IMMA’s official website.

Facilities and Amenities

To ensure that visitors have an enjoyable and comfortable experience, the IMMA provides several facilities. If you’re inclined to take a breather over a cup of coffee, the museum’s café promises refreshment with its delightful menu. Need to pick up a souvenir? Look no further than IMMA’s on-site shop, stocked with a wide range of books, postcards, and artistic gifts. In addition, IMMA also provides wheelchair and buggy access to most of its displays, ensuring everyone can enjoy the artistic discoveries within. The visitor facilities also include free Wi-Fi, enabling you to share your favourite exhibits with family and friends on the go.


So if you’re planning a trip to Dublin, don’t miss out on the IMMA. It’s more than just a museum – it’s a hub of modern art that’s accessible to all. Not only will you be able to dive into the world of contemporary art, but you’ll also enjoy the amenities that ensure a comfortable visit. While the general admission is free, you might want to set aside a bit of your budget for those special exhibitions. Remember to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi to share your unique experiences. There’s no doubt that the IMMA is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

FAQs about IMMA

Q. What are the opening hours of the Irish Museum of Modern Art?

The museum is usually open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11:30 am to 5:30 pm. However, these hours may change due to holidays or special events. It’s best to check the museum’s official website for the most recent information.

Q. Is there an admission fee to the Irish Museum of Modern Art?

The museum offers free general admission to its permanent collection. However, there may be a fee for special exhibitions and events. Check their website for the most accurate and current pricing.

Q. What facilities does the IMMA provide?

The IMMA is equipped with a variety of facilities to increase visitor comfort. These include a café, a shop, wheelchair and buggy access, and free Wi-Fi.

Q. Is the IMMA accessible for those with physical disabilities?

Yes, IMMA is designed to be accessible for all guests. They provide wheelchair and buggy access throughout the museum, ensuring everyone can enjoy their visit.

Q. Does IMMA offer free Wi-Fi?

Yes, free Wi-Fi is offered to all visitors throughout the museum. This allows guests to engage more deeply with exhibitions via online resources or social media.

Olivia Sinclair

Olivia Sinclair

Olivia is the founder of The Dublin Buzz, believing that you don't need to spend big in Dublin to have a great time. She began with a weekly free event newsletter to showcase some of the great things to do for free in Dublin each week.