Exploring Dublin’s Treasure: National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History

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Let’s take a virtual stroll through the corridors of the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History. It’s a treasure trove that’s brimming with artefacts and exhibits that reflect Ireland’s rich cultural heritage. Nestled in the heart of Dublin, this museum is a must-visit for history buffs and art enthusiasts alike.

In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating collections housed within the museum’s walls. We’ll explore the intricate details of the decorative arts on display and delve into the intriguing narratives that each historical piece tells. So, buckle up and prepare to embark on a journey through time as we uncover the secrets of Ireland’s past.

Overview of the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History

Stepping into the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History is like journeying through a time tunnel. Every corner of the museum whispers stories of Ireland’s past. And I am your guide, ready to help you unravel the mysteries hidden within its artefacts.

History of the Museum

Almost tucked away in the bustling heart of Dublin, the building housing the museum was originally the Collins Barracks. Inaugurated in 1704, it holds the record for one of the oldest public buildings in Ireland. With an extensive history as a military barrack, this site became the museum’s home in 1997. Since then, it’s been showcasing Ireland’s rich cultural heritage and history.

Purpose and Mission of the Museum

The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History champions Ireland’s past. It’s a vibrant platform promoting the understanding of Ireland’s art, culture, and history at both national and international levels. The museum’s primary goal is “to collect, preserve, promote and exhibit all examples of Ireland’s portable material heritage and natural history”. This noble mission reflects in the wealth of its unique collections acquired over centuries.

Overview of the Collections

The museum houses a diverse range of collections, each one with its distinct story to tell. From edgy Irish haute couture of yesteryears to poignant military memorabilia, you’ll encounter a fascinating array of artefacts. There’s the grand Eileen Gray collection, heralding Ireland’s modernist design legacy. And let’s not forget the Great Seal of the Irish Free State, which conveys a decisive moment in Irish history.

To present the scope of the museum’s collection, below is a table detailing their major categories:

Collection Details
Furniture Ranges from 17th-century pieces to contemporary design
Silver Documents the entire working history of Irish silversmiths
Ceramics Includes world-renowned collection of delicate Irish porcelain
Glass 29,000 individual pieces showcasing Irish glassmaking tradition
Textiles Presents Ireland’s finest embroidery, carpets and haute couture

Entering the heart of the exhibitions, we uncover Ireland’s dynamic story more closely. How did the nation’s personality evolve over centuries? How have the people shaped, and been shaped by, events, places, and power structures? The museum addresses these intangible threads that weave through the rich tapestry of Ireland’s history.

Exhibits at the National Museum of Ireland-Decorative Arts & History

Delving into the depths of this magnificent museum, you’ll find yourself lost in a compelling tapestry of cultural heritage. Bountiful displays of exquisite furniture, intricate ceramics, and glimmering silver captivate the senses at every turn. These exhibits hold the keys to many hidden tales behind Ireland’s storied material heritage.

The Furniture Exhibit

As you step into the furniture exhibit, you’ll first notice the range – dating from the 17th century right through to modern times. Each piece here tells a fascinating story not only of artistry but also of the moments in history it has witnessed. The fine craftsmanship is evocatively apparent in pieces from a Jacobean-style oak sideboard to a minimalist mid-century chair.

Every nook and cranny of this gallery reveals, what I would call, a snapshot of time. A Gothic Revival bookcase, proudly being displayed, epitomises the details of 19th-century design whilst a 1950s veneered sideboard gives a nod to the simplicity of post-war utility furniture.

The Ceramics Exhibit

Moving on, the ceramics exhibit is a showcase of both local and imported pottery and porcelain. Each item is a symbol of the varying tastes of the Irish people across different epochs. Some highlights found here include a 17th-century Delftware charger, an Irish Belleek tea service from the late Victorian era, and many East Asian ceramics that were a favourite import during the Georgian period.

You might find something that tickles your interest in the marked popularity of Chinese and Japanese ceramics in 18th century Ireland. Along with it, you’ll warm your understanding of how Ireland had begun to fashion elements of eastern design into their own unique creations.

The Silver Exhibit

The final stop on our journey through the exhibits, the silver section sparkles with a delightful myriad of crafted items. Ranging from the grandeur of Dublin Castle silverware, an intricacy of Irish Georgian silver finds a home here too.

Skilful Irish silversmiths of different eras left their mark in nearly every piece, be it an ornate Rococo-style salver or a modestly designed yet elegant mustard pot.

Whether your interest lies in the opulent lifestyle of Irish nobles or the everyday use of silverware in Irish homes, a visit to this exhibition would truly open a silver-lined window into the lives of the Irish people from the past centuries.

It’s a part of history that allows us to unearth, in fragments, the mysteries of the life and times of our ancestors. And what better place to do this exploration than at the National Museum of Ireland-Decorative Arts & History.

Special Events and Programs at the National Museum of Ireland-Decorative Arts & History

A dynamic hub for enrichment lay in the various special events and programs that the National Museum of Ireland—Decorative Arts and History thoughtfully organizes year-round. Always aiming to provide a comprehensive understanding of Ireland’s past, these programs tap into various aspects of heritage and material history, bringing them to life in unique ways.

Workshops and Classes

Visual cues stimulate learning and what better way to engross balls of energy (children) than through hands-on workshops and classes! In the recent years, this museum has been a hotbed of interactive sessions that give children an opportunity to form a direct bond with history.

These workshops are a fun exploration of themes like prehistoric Ireland, ancient crafts, folklore, archaeology, and a myriad other topics. Participants get to indulge in a range of activities like craft making, storytelling, and even archaeological digging! Imagine the thrill of engaging with artefacts just like a true historian.

Guest Lectures and Talks

Accommodating a rich tapestry of talks and lectures, this museum has frequently hosted renowned historians, artists, and experts in the field. These sessions offer a more in-depth understanding of Ireland’s history as seen through the lens of experts.

What I particularly appreciate is how these talks spark meaningful discussions and offer fresh perspectives on the diverse collections housed within the museum’s historic walls. Some talks even examine specific artefacts, delving into their origins, craftsmanship, and historical relevance.

Temporary Exhibitions

In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum prides itself in hosting thought-provoking, temporary exhibitions as well. These exhibitions explore a wide range of themes that are often tied to the current socio-cultural context, or pivotal historical events and periods.

Each exhibition is painstakingly curated, with artefacts, images, and multimedia installations aimed at presenting a cohesive narrative. Many of these exhibitions turn out to be quite popular—educative, innovative, and artistic all at the same time.

My excitement peaks when I discover new interpretations of the art and history at these temporary exhibitions. I truly believe they offer an incredible opportunity to unravel new exciting stories, that are yet to be told – each exhibition opening doors to fresh chapters of Ireland’s rich past.

Visiting the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History

Set foot in the renowned National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History! It promises an enlightening journey through time, showcasing Ireland’s rich heritage and cultural diversity.

Location and Hours

Strategically located in Dublin’s city centre, the museum resides in the historic Collins Barracks. It’s accessible to both locals and tourists alike. Bend your daily route and you’ll find yourself standing in front of the museum’s grand entrance on Benburb Street.

The museum operates from Tuesday to Saturday, opening its doors from 10.00hrs until 17.00hrs, while Sundays and Mondays are dedicated to maintenance and private viewings. It’s important to keep in mind public holidays, as the museum’s hours may vary. Always check their official website for the most accurate times.

Ticket Prices and Discounts

The best part of your visit to the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History? It’s free admission! Yes, you’ve heard right. Get to explore thousands of artefacts, attend educational workshops, and partake in interactive exhibits without spending a penny. This policy aids in encouraging more individuals, families, and groups to involve themselves in experiencing Ireland’s history and heritage.

However, for special lectures, guest talks and some specific events, there may be a nominal entry fee. But don’t worry, it’s often discounted for students, the elderly and group bookings.

Facilities and Accessibility

The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History is not just a place to explore the past, it’s a smooth ride through it. Visitors with special needs will find that the museum is well-equipped with wheelchair ramps, lifts, and disabled washrooms. Audio guides are also available in various languages, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the exhibits.

Hungry after your time travel? The museum houses a café with a selection of bites and beverages to recharge yourself. And don’t forget to stop by the museum shop where a range of unique souvenirs awaits. You might just find the perfect memento to remember your unforgettable journey.

it’s time to continue this journey further with discussing the detailed collections of the museum.


I can’t stress enough the value of visiting the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History. It’s not just a museum; it’s a treasure trove of Irish heritage. From furniture to textiles, every piece tells a story. With its special events and programs, you’re not just observing history – you’re experiencing it. Don’t forget to check out the café and shop for a well-deserved break and a keepsake to remember your visit. Whether you’re a history buff or just curious, this museum’s got something for everyone. So why wait? Plan your visit today. It’s more than a museum – it’s a journey through Ireland’s rich and diverse past.

Where is the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History located?

The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History is located in the historic Collins Barracks in Dublin, Ireland.

What is the mission of the Museum?

The Museum’s mission is to collect, preserve, promote and exhibit Ireland’s portable material heritage and natural history.

What kind of collections does the Museum have?

The Museum houses a diverse range of collections, including furniture, silver, ceramics, and textiles, encompassing much of Ireland’s cultural heritage.

Are there any special events and programs?

Yes, the Museum conducts special events and programs regularly like workshops, lectures, and temporary exhibitions.

What are the Museum’s operating hours and ticket prices?

The operating hours, ticket prices, and other relevant information are detailed in the subsequent paragraphs of the article.

Is the Museum easily accessible?

Yes, the study of the Museum’s accessibility and facilities for visitors is addressed in the following sections of the article.

Does the Museum have a café and shop?

Yes, the Museum has a café and shop where visitors can relax, recharge, and find unique souvenirs.

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.