Places to visit: Art

Hugh Lane Gallery

Hugh Lane Gallery

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The Hugh Lane Gallery is the oldest gallery of modern and contemporary art in Ireland, housing 2,000 artworks, including Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas, and the Francis Bacon studio. The gallery organises regular classical music concerts (Sundays at noon), lectures, etc.

The Hugh Lane Gallery first opened its doors in January 1908 in Clonmel House, Harcourt Street, and is thought to be among the first galleries of modern art in the world. In 1933 the Gallery moved to Charlemont House in Parnell Square, a neo-classical town house designed in 1765 by William Chambers for James Caulfield, the first Earl of Charlemont.

In 2006 a new extension designed by Gilroy McMahon saw the gallery double in size with additional space now available to show permanent collection items as well as facilitating temporary exhibitions. There is also a dedicated learning space, together with a bookshop and café.

The Gallery’s collection includes the renowned Hugh Lane Bequest 1917 (shared with the National Gallery, London) which includes masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Morisot among others.

“The Eve of St Agnes”, the masterpiece of the renowned 20th Century stained glass artist, Harry Clarke, is very popular with visitors.

Francis Bacon’s legendary studio was relocated from 7 Reece Mews, London, to Dublin in 1998 and is now on permanent display. Together with fascinating unfinished works by Bacon, there are display cases presenting items from the studio, an audio visual room and touch screen terminals which allow the visitor to explore the life and art of one of the most important artists of the 20th Century.

The layout upon entering the Gallery can be confusing. If you turn right (passing the reception desk) and go up the stairs, you will visit the 2006 Extension where generally very modern works are exhibited. The Extension design is stark and cold. However, if upon entering the front doors of the Gallery, you stay on the ground floor and walk straight ahead for about eight metres, you will arrive at the Harry Clarke exhibit on your left, while a little further on are rooms displaying classic European artists, culminating with the striking Francis Bacon studio. The most rewarding part of one’s visit will be in this area.

Open Tue-Thurs 9.45 am-6.00 pm, Friday 9.45 am-5.00 pm
Saturday 10.00 am-5.00 pm, Sunday 11.00 am-5.00 pm
Closed Mondays

Charlemont House, Parnell Square North, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 222 5550

Admission free.


Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is Ireland’s leading institution for modern art and is located at the atmospheric complex of buildings known as the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. [For heritage information about this location, please see the separate entry entitled “Royal Hospital Kilmainham“.]

The Museum’s temporary exhibition programme regularly juxtaposes the work of leading, well-established figures with that of younger-generation artists to create a debate about the nature and function of art. Works shown range from painting and sculpture to installation, photography, video and performance. 

Exhibitions usually last three to four months and up to four shows can be on view at any one time. IMMA originates many of its exhibitions but also works closely with a network of international galleries and museums.

This link takes you to a list of current events and exhibitions:

Open Tues/Thur/Fri/Sat 10.00 am-5.30 pm
Wed 11.00 am-5.30 pm
Sundays & Bank Holidays 12.00 pm-5.30 pm
Closed Mondays (except Bank Holidays), Good Friday, 24-26 Dec.

Tours providing a general introduction to IMMA exhibitions take place Wed 1.15 pm, Sat & Sun 2.30 pm. Each tour lasts 30 minutes. Please arrive early for tours as numbers are limited (max 20). No booking required.

Pre-booked guided tours are available for special interest groups including schools, colleges and adult education. The tour times are Tuesday to Friday at 9.30 am, 10.00 am, 10.30 am, 11.00 am and 2.30 pm. Tours are led by IMMA staff and are free of charge.

Royal Hospital, Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 612 9900

Admission free (there is a charge for occasional special exhibitions).

National Gallery

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

In 1852 William Dargan, the father of the Irish rail network, approached the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) with an offer to underwrite a spectacular exhibition on Leinster Lawn in Dublin, the home of the RDS at the time. Just eleven months later, the exhibition was opened in an astonishing series of pavilions for which the architect, John Benson, received a knighthood. The enthusiastic response of the visiting crowds demonstrated an active interest in the establishment of a permanent public collection.

The next ten years saw active campaigning for the funding of a new Gallery building which was designed by Francis Fowke. In January 1864, the Earl of Carlisle officially opened the National Gallery of Ireland to the public. The collection consisted of just 112 pictures, including 39 purchased in Rome in 1856 and 30 which were on loan from the National Gallery London and elsewhere.

The Gallery thrived over the years through purchases, bequests and donations. In 1901 the Countess of Milltown gifted over 200 pictures to the gallery from her house at Russborough as well as a collection of silver, furniture and books from her library. The gift was so substantial that a new extension was constructed to accommodate it.

In 1968 the gallery was extended again with designs by Frank DuBerry. This extension is today named the Beit Wing in acknowledgement of the generosity of Sir Alfred and Lady Beit who gifted 17 outstanding old master pictures to the nation in 1987. Some six years later in 1993 the Gallery became the focus of international attention when Caravaggio’s, ‘The Taking of Christ’, a painting recorded in contemporary biographies on the artist and known through copies but long believed to be lost or destroyed, was discovered in a Jesuit house of studies in Dublin. The picture remains in the gallery on indefinite loan from the Jesuit fathers.

The National Gallery houses some 15,000 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and objets d’art dating from the early thirteenth century through to the mid-twentieth century. The collection boasts an impressive range of masterpieces by artists from the major European schools of art whilst also featuring the world’s most comprehensive collection of Irish art.

You can consult the following links to get information about the national portrait collection, and highlights of the Gallery’s collection. (national portrait collection) (highlights)

Free tours of the permanent collection take place every Thursday at 6.30 pm, every Saturday at 12.30 pm, and every Sunday at 11.30 am, 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm.

Open Mon 11.00 am – 5.30 pm
Open Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 9.15 am – 5.30 pm
Open Thurs 9.15 am – 8.30 pm
Open Sun 11.00 am – 5.30 pm
Closed Good Friday and 24-26 December

Merrion Square West & Clare Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 661 5133.

Admission to the permanent collection is free.

In June 2017 the Gallery re-opened to the public following a period of extensive refurbishment and modernisation of its historic wings on Merrion Square. The grand scale of the Shaw Room at entry level and the monumental galleries in the Dargan and Milltown wings now give the displays a renewed sense of space and grandeur.

The beautifully transformed spaces now feature an entirely new presentation of the celebrated permanent collection featuring master paintings by Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Ruisdael, Vermeer, Gainsborough, Goya, Monet, Gris and Picasso. The Gallery is also able to once again display its prestigious collection of Irish art with works by Daniel Maclise, Roderic O’Conor, John Lavery, William Orpen, Seán Keating, Gerard Dillon, Evie Hone, Norah McGuinness, Jack B. Yeats, Louis le Brocquy and William Scott.

This multimillion-euro refurbishment project was carried out by the Office of Public Works’ Project Management Services, with architects Heneghan Peng as the Design Team Leaders.

Central to the modernisation work was the construction of a state-of-the-art underground energy centre housing vital services. Original nineteenth-century architectural features and spaces are revealed and majestic windows now open onto a spacious light-filled courtyard. The new courtyard dramatically enhances visitors’ orientation between the historic Dargan and Milltown wings. It is also the site for a dramatic sculpture, Magnus Modus, by Joseph Walsh.

The period of refurbishment also allowed for an extensive survey of the Gallery’s permanent collection. More than 450 works have undergone conservation and research. The most spectacular of these is Daniel Maclise’s The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (1854), which has been returned to the elegant surrounds of the Shaw Room in the Dargan Wing.

The refurbished galleries on Merrion Square display over 650 works of art from the permanent collection presented broadly chronologically. The Irish collections are prominent at ground level with European art on the upper level.

An integral part of Gallery is the National Portrait Collection which shows works of eminent Irishmen (Seamus Heaney, TK Whitaker, Brian Friel) and Irishwomen (Mary Robinson, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy) who have contributed to the social, historic, cultural and political life of the country. Most recent acquisitions include portraits of Tony award winning theatre director, Garry Hynes by Vera Klute a portrait of Graham Norton by Gareth Reid, commissioned as part of Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2016, and a portrait of Henry Shefflin by Gerry Davis, commissioned as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016.

The Gallery complex consists of four interconnected buildings:

Dargan Wing: Designed by Francis Fowke and inaugurated in 1864, this constitutes the earliest element in the complex. Its exterior design was determined by the requirement to mirror Francis Clarendon’s elegant Natural History Museum of 1856 located directly across Leinster Lawn. The wing was named in honour of William Dargan (1799-1867), the great Irish railway magnate, who formed a ‘Dargan Committee’ to promote the establishment of a National Gallery in Dublin. A statue of Dargan stands in the front lawn of the Gallery on Merrion Square. One of the most beautiful spaces in the Dargan wing is the Shaw Room, named after George Bernard Shaw who bequeathed one third of his royalties to the National Gallery of Ireland, which, he documented as being of significant influence throughout his childhood.

Milltown Wing: Based on designs by Thomas Manley Deane, the project, which was inaugurated in 1903, was delivered by his son Thomas Newham Deane who inherited the practice from his father. The wing is named in recognition of the Countess of Milltown who presented 200 works of art comprising paintings, silver, furniture and books to the National Gallery of Ireland from her house at Russborough, Co. Wicklow (1902). Formally gifted in July, the collection arrived in 1906.

Beit Wing: Based on designs by Frank du Berry, Senior Architect at the OPW this modern addition provided not only additional galleries but also incorporated a library, lecture theatre and restaurant together with the provision of a conservation studio. It was refurbished in the 1990s by the Office of Public Works (OPW). Originally called the Modern wing, then the North wing, it was named the Beit wing in honour of the munificent gift to the Gallery (1987) of seventeen masterpieces by Sir Alfred and Lady Beit, which included works by Vermeer, Goya, Murillo, Ruisdael, Hobbema, and Velazquez.

Millennium Wing: Opened in January 2002, this wing was designed by the London-based practice, Benson & Forsyth, who were awarded the commission following an international competition. The Portland stone clad façade of this building gives directly onto Clare Street, a busy thoroughfare directly opposite Trinity College, and contrasts with the reserved elegance of the original entrance on Merrion Square.

National Museum Collins Barracks

National Museum (Collins Barracks)

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The National Museum (Collins Barracks) houses the  national Decorative Arts and History collection, charting Ireland’s economic, social, political and  military progress through the ages. Displays range from silver, Asian Art, ceramic and glassware pieces to weaponry, furniture, and examples of folk life and costume.

A very interesting complex of buildings in its own right, the museum at Collins Barracks is extensive and warrants at least a half-day visit. A full day’s outing for visitors to Dublin could include an initial tour of the superbly atmospheric Kilmainham Gaol (only ten minutes away from Collins Barracks), followed by lunch in Brambles Café (on site at the National Museum), and concluding with a leisurely afternoon taking in the attractions listed below.

2022 permanent exhibitions include:

  • A Dubliner’s Collection of Asian Art – The Albert Bender Exhibition (a highly important Asian art collection given to the National Museum during the 1930s by the great Irish-American Albert Bender)
  • The Asgard – discover the historic Asgard yacht, learn about the 1914 Howth gun running episode and the Irish Volunteers, and meet Erskine Childers and Roger Casement
  • Reconstructed Rooms: Four Centuries of Furnishings
  • Eileen Gray – Regarded as one of the most influential 20th Century designers and architects, Eileen Gray (an Irish woman) was renowned in France as a designer in lacquer furniture and interiors. She began to experiment with architectural forms in the late 1920s. Hers was a new approach to shape, line, the use of colour, materials and textures; and the human sensibility of her work continues to inspire designers today.
  • The Way We Wore (250 years of Irish clothing and jewellery)
  • Out of Storage – this double-height gallery is designed to give the visitor an impression of the range of artefacts in the reserve collections of the National Museum. The 500 pieces displayed were chosen to reflect the collecting policies of the Museum through the years.
  • Irish Silver – this exhibition traces the development of the silversmith’s craft from the early 17th Century to the present day. It addresses the evolution of design and examines the mining, assaying, and crafting of this precious metal. It also illustrates the various uses of silver – religious, domestic and ceremonial – and by means of vignettes seeks to place the objects in their historical and economic context.
  • Reconstructed Rooms: Four centuries of furnishings from the Georgian era to contemporary Irish furniture design
  • Curator’s Choice: 25 special objects from the Museum’s collections chosen by the Museum’s own curators. Particularly noteworthy are the Fonthill Vase (the earliest documented piece of Chinese porcelain in Europe),  a 2,000 year old Japanese ceremonial bell , and the decorative gauntlets worn by King William at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
  • Airgead – 1,000 Years of Irish Coins & Currency
  • Irish Country Furniture – this exhibition displays the furniture typically found in the traditional rural Irish home (including a re-construction of a country kitchen). It shows a range of styles from different areas of the country, the functional nature of each piece, and the skill of native Irish craftsmen. The display also highlights the evolution and development of traditional furniture and furnishings as Ireland’s social and economic circumstances changed through the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Soldiers  & Chiefs (The Irish at War at Home & Abroad, 1550-2001). This very extensive exhibition uses original artefacts, letters, replicas and audio accounts to show the influence of Irish military participation over the centuries in a host of wars, both at home and abroad.
  • Irish wars 1919 to 1923 – An online exhibition which explores a selection of the newly displayed objects which feature in the Soldiers and Chiefs exhibition. The exhibition covers such themes as civil disobedience, imprisonment, hunger strike, propaganda, women in warfare and the effects of the conflict on civilian populations.
  • Down to Earth – Exploring Ireland’s Geology: An exhibition that tells the story of how scientists have developed their understanding of our planet over the last 175 years. The museum is the holder of a vast geological collection yet little of it has been seen by Museum audiences in over fifty years. A partnership with Geological Survey Ireland is bringing these precious samples back into public display and includes real mineral specimens collected in nineteenth-century Ireland and observed through the lens of modern science. 

Current temporary exhibitions:

  • Contemporary Collection of Design & Craft – an exhibition illustrating the best of Irish contemporary craft and design from both home and abroad
  • 21st Century Irish Craft – an exhibition showcasing the best of Irish ceramics, glass, furniture, wood turning, jewellery, accessories and silverware
  • Recovered voices: the Stories of the Irish at War, 1914-15 (About 21,000 Irishmen were already serving in the British Army when war broke out in 1914. ‘Recovered Voices’ explores what happened to them and the other 47,000 who joined in the first few years of the war. From the lush green fields of France in the summer of 1914, through that first Christmas in the trenches, to the sun dried beaches of Turkey in 1915, this exhibition unveils the complexity of Ireland’s part in World War One).
  • Ib Jorgensen:  A Fashion Retrospective – From the 1950s to the 1990s, Jorgensen was one of Ireland’s leading fashion designers, attracting a clientele from amongst the wealthiest and most stylish women in the country.
  • Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising – Available as a virtual show only. The exhibition explores the background to the 1916 Rising and introduces the visitor to the nuances of contemporary political events – the rise of the Catholic élite; the push for Home Rule along with the counter-moves of unionism; the increasingly nationalistic  tone of the arts and cultural movements of the period; and the political growth of republicanism.
  • Alison Lowry: Hidden Truths – an artistic response to the legacy of mother and baby homes and Magdalene laundries
  • Little Houses – an exhibition of artworks created through a collaborative partnership between the Stoneybatter Youth Service and the National Museum. The artworks were created by young people from the community close to Collins Barracks during the series of Lockdowns since March 2020. The exhibition is a visual record of their experiences of the pandemic and its impact on the community, and wider society.
  • Studio & State – This exhibition features for the first time Sir John Lavery’s paintings of the Treaty signatories (loaned by the Hugh Lane Gallery) next to contemporary artefacts of the time from the Museum’s own collection. Museum objects include the fountain pen reputedly used by Michael Collins to sign the original Treaty document and propaganda handbills. Studio & State explores events between July 1921, when the Truce was agreed in Dublin, and January 1922, when the Anglo-Irish Treaty was narrowly ratified in Dáil Éireann.  The negotiations for and signing of the Treaty were crystallising moments for Ireland in the twentieth century. The Treaty was both a vehicle of peace as well as a catalyst for civil war. Sir John Lavery’s paintings provide an unparalleled record of this pivotal moment.

Open Tues-Sat: 10.00 am-5.00 pm
Open Sun & Mon: 1.00 pm-5.00 pm
Closed Good Friday and 25 December. Open Christmas Eve 10.00 am-12.00 pm.

Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7.

Tel: 01 677 7444.

Free admission.

Click here to consult the calendar of special events

National Photographic Archive

National Photographic Archive

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The National Photographic Archive houses the photographic collections of the National Library of Ireland (5.2 million photographs). There is a reading room and a gallery which showcases a programme of regularly changing exhibitions. Over 20,000 glass plate negatives (1870-1954) have been digitised and are viewable online.

The reading room in the NPA is open to researchers, by prior appointment only, Tues-Thur from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm and Wednesday from 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm. You can make an appointment by phoning 01-603 0368 or by emailing

‘Ireland on the Box’, a free exhibition of photographs celebrating 60 years of RTÉ television, is the current exhibition at the National Photographic Archive.

Open every day: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm.

Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 603 0200.

Admission free.

Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Royal Hospital Kilmainham

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham is a 17th Century building modelled on Les Invalides in Paris as a retirement home for old, sick and disabled soldiers. The building contains the Master’s Quarters, the Great Hall, the Chapel, a magnificent Courtyard and a Vaulted Cellar. There are notable formal gardens. The Royal Hospital Kilmainham predates its sister, the Royal Hospital Chelsea, by just two years and is the oldest classical building in Ireland.

The Royal Hospital stands on the site of the 7th century Early Christian settlement of Cill Maighneann, from which the area of Kilmainham derives its name.

In 1174, Strongbow developed the site replacing the Christian settlement with a medieval hospital and monastery of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitallers).

With the dissolution of the monasteries under the rule of Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541, the settlement was closed and the lands remained vacant until 1680.

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham was established and built between 1680 and 1684 on a 60 acre site granted by King Charles II at the instigation of James Butler, First Duke of Ormond.

Inspired by ‘Les Invalides’ in Paris, France, then recently opened as Louis XIV’s home for his army pensioners, Ormond obtained a charter from King Charles to construct a similar type of building at Kilmainham.

A retirement home for old soldiers rather than a hospital, the building opened its doors in 1684 and for the next 243 years, thousands of army pensioners would live out their final days within its walls.

Classical in design and Continental in layout, leading architects such as William Robinson, Thomas Burgh and Francis Johnson worked on the building making the Royal Hospital not only a building of distinction, but the starting point of Dublin’s development into a city of European standing.

In the 19th century, the military significance of this building was greatly enhanced when it became the residence and headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the British army in Ireland.

The Royal Hospital remained an old soldier’s home until 1927 when it was finally handed over to the newly established Irish Free State Government, where it served a number of purposes in the decades that followed (including serving as Garda Headquarters from 1930 to 1950).

In 1980 Taoiseach Charles Haughey approved plans to renovate the building at a cost of IR£3 million. It took four years to complete the project – which is as long as it took to originally build it three centuries before!

Today, the Office of Public Works retells the story of this magnificent building through its ‘Old Man’s House’ Exhibition. Visitors can discover the history behind the North Range, the Formal Gardens, the Meadow and Dublin’s Oldest graveyard, Bully’s Acre. Located on the ground floor of the West Wing, the exhibition enables one to enter a window into the past,  learning about the lives of those who once worked and resided within its walls.

The building became home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1991 (please click here for more information about IMMA).

You can read a full account of the Hospital’s fascinating history at

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham is open all year for historical guided tours of its spacious grounds and beautiful gardens. Unfortunately, as part of the building is closed for refurbishment, there is limited access to the interior. Tours of the grounds and gardens are available daily and are free but booking is essential (phone 087-3422399 or email

Open all year, Monday- Saturday: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm. Open Sunday and Bank Holidays: 12.00 pm- 5.00 pm. The IMMA art gallery is closed on Mondays.

Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Tel: 01-6437 700 or 087-3422 399

Admission free.