There are some excellent art galleries in Dublin for those of you looking to soak up a bit of culture during your visit.
From James Joyce to Oscar Wilde, Dublin’s writing tradition is legendary, however, it’s the capital’s visual arts scene that’s been shining bright in recent years.
From heavyweights, like The National Gallery, to sometimes overlooked Dublin art galleries, like The Hugh Lane, there’s something to tickle most fancies, as you’ll discover below.
Our favourite art galleries in Dublin
The first section of this guide is packed with our favourite Dublin art galleries. These are galleries that one of The Irish Road Trip Team have visited and loved!
Below, you’ll find everything from The Doorway Gallery and the Chester Beatty to the National Gallery and more.
1. National Gallery of Ireland
Ireland’s premier art gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland showcases work by some of the all-time masters of their craft.
Located in a stately Victorian building on Merrion Square, the gallery features an extensive collection of fine Irish paintings as well as work by European artists from the 14th to the 20th Century, including Titian, Rembrandt and Monet.
Make sure you check out Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ. It became famous for being considered lost for over 200 before suddenly being discovered in the dining room at the Jesuit House on Leeson Street, Dublin, in 1987!
2. Chester Beatty
An overflowing treasure chest of ancient manuscripts, rare books and countless other historic items, the award-winning Chester Beatty is one of the most unique art galleries in Dublin.
is a stunning collection featuring art from around the world. Overlooking the elegant grounds and gardens of Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty is easy to find and hard to leave once you’re inside!
Once his private library, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875 – 1968), was an American mining magnate, collector and philanthropist who was one of the most successful businessmen of his generation. Though Beatty didn’t move to Dublin until he was in his 70’s, he was made an honorary citizen of Ireland in 1957.
3. Irish Museum of Modern Art
Located in a renovated 17th-century hospital in Kilmainham, the Irish Museum of Modern Art is home to the National Collection of modern and contemporary art, with over 3,500 artworks by Irish and International artists.
The mix of vivid modern art within the historic walls of the old hospital is a clash of the senses and makes for a really interesting visit.
The collection’s emphasis is on art produced after 1940 and features work by a variety of significant artists including Marina Abramović, Philippe Parreno and Roy Lichtenstein.
And, of course, there are regular exhibitions that are always worth keeping an eye out for. This is one of the most popular Dublin art galleries for good reason.
4. The Doorway Gallery
Step through the lovely red door of the (appropriately-named) Doorway Gallery and enjoy a cracking collection of work by Irish artists and artists from further afield.
The noble aim of the gallery is to support artists in achieving international recognition for their work and your visit might just help them do that!
As well as myriad styles of painting, you’ll also be able to enjoy quality work by sculpture artists and print artists. Just a couple of minute’s walk from Trinity College, the Doorway Gallery is super easy to reach and hidden away enough that it shouldn’t be too crowded when you visit.
Popular art galleries in Dublin
Now that we have our favourite Dublin art galleries out of the way, it’s time to see what else the city has to offer.
Below, you’ll find everything from The Hugh Lane and The Molesworth Gallery to Oriel Gallery and more.
1. The Hugh Lane
Though not a painter himself, Hugh Lane was a celebrated art dealer, collector and exhibitor whose collection this impressive gallery is named after.
Sadly he was one of the 1,198 unfortunate passengers who died on the infamous sinking of the RMS Lusitania, but his legacy (and pride in Irish painting) lives on here.
Located in Charlemont House on Parnell Square North, this Dublin art Gallery continues to focus on modern and contemporary art and excellence in Irish art practice, while showcasing Lane’s passion for impressionism.
2. The Douglas Hyde Gallery
Focusing on artists who push at the boundaries of form and convention and who also might be overlooked or marginalised, The Douglas Hyde Gallery is a cracking little spot based at Trinity College. If you want something wildly different from the Book of Kells then this might be the place for you!
First opened in 1978, the gallery has showcased work by significant Irish artists such as Sam Keogh, Kathy Prendergast and Eva Rothschild, and also brought well-regarded international artists to Ireland for the first time too, including Marlene Dumas, Gabriel Kuri and Alice Neel.
3. The Molesworth Gallery
Small yet influential, the mighty Molesworth Gallery hosts a rich and diverse exhibition programme and is known for its inclusion of contemporary art and sculptures.
Located on Molesworth Street in between Trinity College and St Stephen’s Green, the gallery has exhibited work by artists like Catherine Barron, Gabhann Dunne, John Kindness and Sheila Pomeroy.
Established in 1999, the first floor features a revolving display of paintings and sculptures that are worth checking out throughout the year.
4. Oriel Gallery
The oldest independent gallery in Ireland, the Oriel Gallery was founded in 1968 and, in the spirit of that revolutionary year, was established at a time when Irish art was hugely unfashionable.
Founder Oliver Nulty’s gamble paid off, however, as it’s now one of the most interesting art galleries in Dublin and it’s well worth a visit.
As well as featuring work by Irish luminaries such as Jack B Yeats, Nathaniel Hone, William Leech, they also reserve space for contemporary and abstract paintings. Head over to Clare Street if you’d like to check them out!
Often overlooked Dublin art galleries
There’s a handful of art galleries in Dublin that tend to get overlooked by some culture-vultures exploring the city.
Below, you’ll find the brilliant Kerlin Gallery and the excellent Temple Bar Gallery + Studios along with much more.
1. Kerlin Gallery
The concept of the ‘hidden gem’ is one of travel writing’s more ubiquitous cliches but there’s no doubt that the Kerlin Gallery – tucked away down a charming side street – certainly fits the bill!
Opened in 1998 and spread across two airy floors, the Kerlin displays contemporary art and has featured several exhibitions by Sean Scully and has also hosted Andy Warhol retrospectives.
Head down to Anne’s Lane to check out the gallery (look out for the umbrellas!) and then treat yourself to a pint at John Kehoe’s afterward, one of Dublin’s oldest pubs.
2. Olivier Cornet Gallery
Among the grand Georgian surroundings of Great Denmark Street lies the Olivier Cornet Gallery, a crackling little space celebrating the work of Irish visual artists across many disciplines, including painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, fine prints and digital art.
Originally based in Temple Bar, French-born Owner Olivier Cornet moved the gallery north to an area famous for its literary and artistic heritage. Definitely look out for any of the 7 or 8 solo/group exhibitions that the gallery organises each year.
3. Temple Bar Gallery + Studios
Speaking of Temple Bar, did you know that amid all the excitement of the popular tourist hub there’s a rather large art gallery?! Established back in 1983 by a group of artists, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios was actually the first DIY artist-centred initiative in Ireland.
Though the disused factory space that they first rented was pretty sketchy (and at times hazardous), they made it work and contributed to making the area the cultural hub it is today.
These days it’s still a thriving space and many of Ireland’s leading artists have worked in the studios and have exhibited in the gallery.
4. Farmleigh Gallery
This one’s a little further out of the way but definitely still worth your time. Located within the grounds of the stately Farmleigh House and Estate, this gallery once operated as the estate’s cow sheds but in 2005 was converted into an exhibition space that meets international curatorial and conservation standards.
The international prominence of Farmleigh House has meant that it’s been able to showcase some excellent exhibitions over the years, one of which was Venice At Farmleigh ‒ displaying the work of Irish artist Gerard Byrne, alongside Turner-nominated Willie Doherty who represented Northern Ireland at the acclaimed Venice Biennale exhibition in 2007.
FAQs about the best art galleries in Dublin
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what are the most unique art Galleries in Dublin to which are the biggest.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are the best art galleries in Dublin?
The best Dublin art galleries are, in our opinion, National Gallery of Ireland, The Doorway Gallery, Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Chester Beatty.
What Dublin art galleries are the biggest?
Size wise, National Gallery of Ireland is the biggest. However, IMMA is pretty sizable, too, as is the Chester Beatty.