Places to visit: Exhibitions

National Museum Natural History

National Museum (Natural History) *****

The National Museum (Natural History) is located on Merrion Street. The building was constructed in 1856 to house the Royal Dublin Society’s growing collections, which had expanded continually since the late 18th Century.

The building is a ‘cabinet-style’ museum designed to showcase a wide-ranging and comprehensive zoological collection, and has changed little in over a century. Often described as a ‘museum of a museum’, its 10,000 exhibits provide a glimpse of the natural world that has delighted generations of visitors since the doors opened in 1857. Kids rate this venue a 5-star experience.

The building and its displays reflect many aspects of the history and development of the collections. It was originally built as an extension to Leinster House, where the Royal Dublin Society was based for much of the 19th Century. The building was designed by architect Frederick Clarendon.

In 1877 ownership of the Museum and its collections was transferred to the state. New funding was provided for the building, and new animals were added from an expanding British empire during the great days of exploration.

The Natural History division cares for the state collections in the disciplines of zoology and geology. The botanical collections of the Museum were transferred to the National Botanic Gardens in 1970.

The Natural History collections comprise approximately two million specimens. The largest of the collections, in terms of numbers, is the extensive insect collection, which accounts for about half of all specimens. There is a surprising amount of material from outside Ireland, much of this a legacy of the 19th Century British Empire, when Dublin was one of its most significant and populous cities, and Irish scientists and keen amateurs staffed the largest navy in the world and were involved in numerous expeditions to far away places.

The collections are used as a reference resource by staff and research visitors, and play an important role in the identification of specimens such as insect pests that may have considerable economic significance. Staff carry out field work, publish their own research and assist visitors who are also involved in scientific publications. Time is also spent acquiring new examples of the Irish fauna through regular fieldwork.

The ground floor is dedicated to Irish animals, featuring giant deer skeletons and a variety of mammals, birds and fish. The upper floors of the building were laid out in the 19th Century in a scientific arrangement showing animals by taxonomic group. This scheme demonstrated the diversity of animal life in an evolutionary sequence.

The collections on display include:

  • Irish Fauna
  • Mammals of the World
  • Steps in Evolution
  • Birds of a Feather
  • Mating Game
  • Crystal Jellies
  • Taxonomy Trail
  • Underwater Worlds

Unfortunately, the second and third floors of the Museum are not accessible to visitors at present for safety reasons. The balcony levels have been closed as there are too few emergency exits. A plan to address this issue has been developed but funding is not yet available.

Open Tues–Sat 10.00 am-5.00 pm, Sun & Mon 1.00 pm–5.00 pm.
Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day.

Merrion Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 677 7444.

Admission free.

Click here to consult the calendar of special events (when the page opens, click on the PDF documents at the top of the page).

National Photographic Archive

National Photographic Archive

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 phone at 01-6030373 or by emailing

From Ballots to Bullets, Ireland 1918-1919 – At the start of 1918, Ireland was at war – fighting for Britain in World War I. By the end of 1919, Ireland was at war with Britain – fighting for independence. The exhibition – From Ballots to Bullets – invites the visitor to share in a selection of events and stories from these turbulent years.

Open every day: Monday to Saturday 10.00 am to 5.00 pm and 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm on Sundays.

Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 603 0200.

Admission free.

National Print Museum

National Print Museum ***

The National Print Museum is a museum of printing craft skills. It has a collection of over 10,000 objects that covers the whole range of the printing craft in Ireland. The collection consists of printing machinery and artefacts including printing blocks, metal and wooden movable type, ephemera, photographs, books, pamphlets, periodicals and one banner. The collection policy covers from the introduction of movable type to Ireland (in the 16th century) to the present day.

Open all year Mon-Fri 9.00 am-5.00 pm; Sat-Sun 2.00 pm-5.00 pm
Closed Bank Holiday weekends (Sat/Sun/Mon)
Closed 21 Dec-Jan 1

Self-guided tours. Also guided tours for individual visitors and pre-booked groups. The tour takes you through the history of printing, and the museum’s three part print-shop style exhibition (composing, printing and finishing areas). Caution – parking on site is very limited and parking “clampers” are active.

Free tour every Sunday at 3.00 pm (excluding Bank Holiday weekends). No booking required.

Daily guided tours at 11.30 am and 2.30 pm, Mon– Fri. No afternoon tours on Wednesdays.

Garrison Chapel, Beggars Bush Barracks, Haddington Road, Dublin 4.

Tel: 01 6603770.

Adults €5; concessions.

Number 29 Fitzwilliam St

Number Twenty Nine Fitzwilliam Street Lower

Number Twenty Nine Fitzwilliam Street Lower is a Georgian House Museum. You go on a self-guided tour from the basement to the attic. The rooms are furnished with original artefacts from 1790-1820, illustrating how life was lived in the late Georgian era by upper middle-class Dublin families. The museum is sponsored by the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in partnership with the National Museum.

The Museum is temporarily closed to facilitate the construction of a new ESB Head Office Complex. This construction work will be completed in late 2020.

Open mid-Feb to mid-Dec Tues-Sat: 10.00 am-5.00 pm.
Closed Sun, Mon.

Guided tours (on a first come, first served basis) each afternoon at 3.00 pm; group tours are on a pre-arranged booked basis (11.00 am).

Fitzwilliam Street Lower, Dublin 2.


Adults €6; concessions.

Pearse Museum

Pearse Museum

The Pearse Museum was once a school run by Patrick Pearse (of 1916 fame). Set in attractive grounds, the museum houses an exhibition, with an audio-visual show entitled “This Man Kept a School”.

Open Nov-Jan every day 9.30 am-4.00 pm.
Open Feb every day 9.30 am-5.00 pm.
Open Mar-Oct every day 9.30 am-5.30 pm.
Open Sundays and Bank Holidays at 10.00 am (the closing time varies, as per the seasonal opening hours above).
Closed over the Christmas period.

St. Enda’s Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin.

Tel: 01 493 4208.

Admission free. Café on site.

Royal Hibernian Academy

Royal Hibernian Academy

The Royal Hibernian Academy is an artist based and artist orientated institution dedicated to developing the public’s appreciation and understanding of traditional and innovative approaches to the visual arts. The Academy achieves its objectives through its exhibition, education and collection programmes.

The Academy has five galleries. Three on the first floor are dedicated to curated exhibitions of Irish and international art: The main gallery space comes to some 6000 sq.ft. The other two galleries have 1500 sq.ft each.

The Ashford Gallery is situated on the ground floor (1100 sq.ft.) and provides a service to artists who do not have commercial representation in Dublin. It is designed to introduce artists to the collecting public and prove their commercial viability.

The Dr Tony Ryan Gallery is also on the ground floor and is dedicated to showing private and public collections, including from time to time selections from the RHA Collection.

The RHA originated when artists from the Society of Artists in Ireland petitioned the Viceroy in the late 1700s for the opportunity to exhibit their works annually. A Royal Charter was finally granted in 1821, and the deeds were received in 1823, giving the Academy independence from all other institutions.

The RHA is made up of 30 Members, 15 Senior Members and 10 Associate Members, all of whom are professional artists. The disciplines of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture and Print (including Photography) are all represented by the Academy’s broad national membership.

In 1825 Francis Johnson, the esteemed Georgian architect, endowed the Academy with a house and Exhibition Gallery in Lower Abbey Street, which was subsequently destroyed by fire during the Easter Rising of 1916. The Academy was without a permanent premises until 1939, when it acquired the house and garden of 15 Ely Place.

In 1970 Matthew Gallagher of the Gallagher Group offered to provide the RHA with a complete gallery on the site at Ely Place. The new gallery was finally opened to the public in 1985 for the 156th Annual Exhibition, the first the RHA had held on its own premises for 69 years.

Opening Hours
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Wednesday late night opening: 11.00 am – 8.00 pm
Sunday: 12.00 pm – 5.00 pm

Royal Hibernian Academy, Gallagher Gallery, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2

Tel: 01- 661 2558

Admission free

For what’s on now, see

Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Royal Hospital Kilmainham ***

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham is a 17th Century building modelled on Les Invalides in Paris as a 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 is now home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art/IMMA (please click here for more information about IMMA).

There is a small but excellent exhibition – “Old Man’s House” – about the history of the Hospital and its pensioners.

Heritage guided tours are provided on request only (please email to enquire).

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

Old Man’s House exhibition, grounds and gardens open Mon-Sat 10.00 am – 5.00 pm;
Sunday and Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.00 pm.

Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Tel: 087 1169347

Admission free.

Science Gallery

Science Gallery

The Science Gallery is a venue promoting current areas of science and art-science collaborations. It is noted for its knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff. There are 4-6 temporary exhibitions each year, as well as lectures and other events.

25.10.19 – 09.02.20
It is essential but polluting. Saves lives yet chokes our oceans. Plastic is cheap to create but expensive to dispose of. It can last forever but is often used only once. Plastic has changed our daily lives and our environment more than any other material. We can’t live without it.

Plastic has changed our daily lives and our environment more than any other material. The unsustainability of our relationship with plastic is well documented, but to stop using plastic is not an option. Its use has revolutionised industrial design, and more essentially, modern medicine relies on plastic so heavily that even the most basic medical procedures would be unimaginable without it. This exhibition explores how we can responsibly use this versatile material, while fundamentally changing our approach to living with plastic.

Produced with the support of Science Foundation Ireland, this is Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin’s first national touring exhibition. In each location, an artist has been commissioned to work with the local community to co-design an artwork reflecting the cultural history, place and relationship between the people and their environment.

The exhibition runs in Dublin until the 9th of February 2020 and then tours to Wexford, Drogheda, Galway and Letterkenny.

It is essential to consult the Gallery’s website for detailed current information.

Opening hours –
Tuesday – Friday 11.00 am to 7.00 pm; Saturday & Sunday 12.00 pm-6.00 pm; Closed Mondays.

Quirky gift shop.

Naughton Institute, Pearse Street, Trinity College, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 896 4091.

Admission free.



Trinity College

Trinity College Dublin *****

Trinity College Dublin  was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is an atmospheric 40-acre site in the heart of the city. Treasures on view include the Book of Kells; the Books of Durrow and Armagh; and an early Irish harp. All are displayed in the Treasury and the Old Library/Long Room (which houses 200,000 rare books).

The Book of Kells is Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and is the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. The 9th Century book is a richly decorated copy of the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ.  A must-see is the  Book of Kells “Turning Darkness into Light” exhibition.

Opening Hours
Mon – Sat (Oct – Apr) 9.30 am – 5.00 pm
Mon – Sat (May – Sept) 8.30 am – 5.00 pm
Sun (Oct – Apr) 12.00 pm – 4:30  pm
Sun (May – Sept) 9:30  am – 5.00 pm
Easter Opening Times may vary from this: check the Trinity website for up-to-date details.

Trinity Library, College Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 896 1000.

Online prices: Adults €11 (off-peak) or €14 (peak). You avoid queuing by booking online. It is unclear from the website if a higher admission price applies when you do not book online.

See separate entries for the Science Gallery & the Zoological Museum.

Enjoy student-led walking tours through the four historical squares of the campus, providing a history of the university, its buildings and its historic context. Tours in the high season (June-September) depart from the front gate daily from 9.15 am (last tour 3.40 pm, last tour on Sundays/Bank Holidays at 3.15 pm). The tour schedule displayed at the Front Gate always takes precedence over information available on the website.

Tour ticket €6. Combination ticket (Tour and admission to the Book of Kells and the Old Library) €15. These tour tickets can only be bought in person (they are not available online). In the low season, regular tours take place on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays only. You must check the Trinity website for accurate details about tour times ( No tours on St Patrick’s Day (March 17th).

Trinity College Zoological Museum

Zoological Museum (Trinity College)

Getting your picture taken through the jaws of a shark and feeling the might of a crocodile’s teeth are just some of the thrills on offer at Trinity College’s Zoological Museum. This 250-year old collection houses 25,000 specimens. Despite over two centuries of disruption and change, much of the collection remains intact and provides a vital undergraduate teaching resource for the Department of Zoology.

The Zoological Museum holds some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.

  • Don’t miss the tragic tale of Ireland’s Last Great Auk. Extinct since 1844, only a handful of these beautiful birds survive in museums today.
  • Meet Prince Tom, the ‘Royal’ elephant who travelled the world with Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred.
  • Have your photograph taken through the jaws of a Great White Shark.
  • Admire the world-renowned delicate glass artworks of sea creatures crafted by father and son team Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the 19th century.
  • Keep clear of the giant Gavial – Is it as fierce as it looks?
  • Hold one of the world’s strangest teeth – What animal do you think it’s from?
  • Look out for the Tasmanian wolf – Is it really extinct?

Open Mon-Sun 10.30 am-4.00 pm (1 June to 31 August only).

Zoological Museum, School of Natural Sciences, Department of Zoology, Trinity College, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01-8961366.

Admission €3.