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16 Of The Best Museums In Dublin (Historic, Quirky + Unusual Dublin Museums)

16 Of The Best Museums In Dublin (Historic, Quirky + Unusual Dublin Museums)

Since June of 2021, I’ve found myself spending more and more weekends visiting museums in Dublin.

A perfect Saturday afternoon now involves a visit to museum followed up with several pints tucked away in one of the oldest pubs in Dublin (I’ve been working my way through them, too…).

From the brilliant Little Museum of Dublin to 14 Henrietta Street, there are Dublin museums to tickle most fancies. You’ll discover the best below.

The best museums in Dublin

EPIC tour dublin

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

So, the first section of this guide is packed with what think are the best museums in Dublin (feel free to shout at me in the comments if you disagree!).

These are ones I’ve visited over the last few months, and would happily visit again. Below, you’ll find everywhere from the National History Museum to Kilmainham Gaol.

1. EPIC Museum

epic tour dublin

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

The EPIC museum is one of the newest museums in Dublin City Centre, having only opened its doors back in 2016. However, even though it’s relatively new to the scene, it’s already become a go-to for tourists.

A visit to the EPIC museum takes you on a journey to uncover what it really means to be Irish. Those that visit will hear the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets and even outlaws all across the globe

Recently crowned Europe’s leading tourist destination, the museum has welcomed everyone from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to Justin Trudeau through its doors.

You’ll see this place ranking high in our guide to the best things to do in Dublin for good reason.

2. 14 Henrietta Street

inside 14 Henrietta Street

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

I’m fresh off the back of a visit to 14 Henrietta Street. Now, before visiting, I wouldn’t have classed this as a museum, but it’s described as a ‘social history museum of Dublin life’, and it tells the story beautifully.

The minute you step onto Henrietta Street, you get a sense of what’s coming – the street itself is almost like stepping back in time.

The tour here is delivered by passionate guides who offer an insight into the history of the area and how it went from a once affluent corner of Dublin to a place where people lived hand-to mouth.

This is one of the more unique Dublin museums, and the combination of storytelling, visual displays, 3D renderings and room reconstructions grip your attention from beginning to end.

3. Kilmainham Gaol

kilmainham gaol tickets

Photos via Shutterstock

A visit to Kilmainham Gaol is an experience and a half. Kilmainham’s Gaol opened in 1796, serving as the County Gaol for Dublin City and the wider county.

It’s within the walls of Kilmainham that leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848,1867 and 1916 were detained and, in several cases, shot.

The brilliantly delivered tour and the slightly eerie feel to the Gaol itself make a visit here a memorable one. The tour holds your attention from beginning to end and the Gaol’s many colourful stories make for an enjoyable listen.

Kilmainham, like many of the museums in Dublin, needs to be booked in advance. We tried booked this a few times close to the day and missed out.

4. The Chester Beatty Museum

Chester Beatty dublin

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

The Chester Beatty is outstanding (it’s also free!). Honestly, how/why this place isn’t given more promotion in Tourism Ireland campaigns is beyond me.

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty was one of the greatest collectors of the 20th century. During his lifetime, he collected thousands of artifacts, including everything from Egyptian Books of the Dead to contemporary Chinese woodblock prints.

In his later years, Beatty (and his collection) relocated to Dublin. A chunk of his incredibly impressive collection is now housed in the Chester Beatty Museum, in Dublin Castle.

The only issue that I’d have with the Chester Beatty is that I found it hard to read some of the information placards, as they were very low down. If you need glasses, bring ’em!

5. The Glasnevin Cemetery Museum

glasnevin cemetery dublin

Photos via Shutterstock

The Glasnevin Cemetary Museum is arguably one of the most overlooked of the many Dublin museums, mainly as it sits just outside the city.

However, if the location puts you off, keep in mind that you can combine a visit here with a trip to the Botanic Gardens and The Gravediggers, where you’ll get some of the best Guinness in Dublin.

The Glasnevin Cemetary Museum is home to a wealth of history. In fact, since waaaaaaay back in 1832, a staggering 1.5 million people have been laid to rest within its walls.

The Cemetery is sprawled over an impressive 124 acres of parkland and the tour here is top-notch. The highlight, in my opinion, is the O’Connell Tower. Those that climb the 198 steps to the top can enjoy breath-taking views out over Dublin City and beyond.

Other Dublin museums well worth dropping into

Know that I have what think are the best museums in Dublin out of the way, it’s time to see what else the capital has to offer.

Below, you’ll find a mix of well known Dublin museums, like the National History Museum, to some lesser known spots that are worth a visit.

1. The Museum of Natural History

natural history museum dublin

Photos via Shutterstock

A visit to the Museum of Natural History, AKA ‘the Dead Zoo’, is up there as one of the best free things to do in Dublin (especially when it’s lashing down!).

Now, although the nickname sounds a bit morbid, it’s well worth dropping in to. Those that ramble inside will discover over 10,000 species of taxidermied animals on display.

You’ll find this place tucked between Leinster House and the Attorney General’s Office, where it’s been tipping away for around 160 years, which makes it one of the oldest museums in Dublin.

2. The Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum Of Dublin tour

Photos via The Little Museum Of Dublin on FB

The award-winning Little Museum of Dublin tells the story of Ireland’s capital, from the visit of Queen Victoria to the global success of U2.

Set in an old Georgian mansion just off Grafton Street and right across from St Stephen’s Green, this gorgeous Dublin museum is packed with an endless number of things to discover.

From James Joyce to John F Kennedy, you’ll be immersed in countless stories and tales. There’s also plenty of weird and wonderful little artifacts and bits of random memorabilia on show.

This is one of the more unique museums in Dublin and, while it won’t take you long to get around it, it’s home to plenty of interesting bits and bobs to keep you entertained.

3. The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is the Irish Museum of Modern Art (also known as IMMA). You’ll find this place nestled in 48 acres in the heart of Dublin 8, a 15-minute walk from both Kilmainham Gaol and the Guinness Storehouse.

IMMA boasts a wide variety of art and an exhibitions programme that changes regularly, ensuring there’s always something new to have a gawk at.

You can join one of the guided tours for free and get to known IMMA and the exhibitions in more detail via the words of an experienced guide. If you’re a fan of modern art, this place should be right up your street.

4. The Dublinia Museum

dublinia tour

Photo left by Lukas Fendek (Shutterstock). Photo right via Dublinia on Facebook

I’d argue that Dublinia is one of the best museums in Dublin if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the city’s Viking past.

From creating the first Irish trade routes to constructing what’s arguably Ireland’s most famous cathedral (Christ Church Cathedral), the Vikings had quite the impact in Ireland.

Dublinia isn’t just any old museum – it’s is a ‘living’ museum and does a mighty job of bringing history to life for those who step through its doors.

5. The GPO Museum

gpo tour dublin

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

The GPO 1916 tour is excellent. I did it a couple of years back and I’ve been banging on about it to people since. When you walk into the GPO 1916 tour, you nearly feel like you’ve stepped out onto a battlefield.

From the minute the tour begins, you feel completely immersed in the action. The exhibition puts you right inside Dublin’s GPO during Easter Week in 1916.

It’s highly visual and conveys the events in an easy to digest, dramatic manner that’ll leave you with a totally different perspective of the General Post Office and O’Connell Street forever more.

6. The National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology)

The National Museum of Ireland Archaeology

Photos via Ireland’s Content Pool

The National Museum of Ireland (Archaeology) is one of the most popular museums in Dublin City Centre. The fact that it’s home to some mummies (yes, mummies!) helps.

The preserved remains you’ll find as part of the Kingship and Sacrifice exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland are a little spookier than those resting in the vaults at St. Michan’s.

These leathery-looking remains were human sacrifices who were then mummified by the Irish bogs they were buried in. There’s plenty of other interesting artifacts to have a nosey at here and, like some of the other Dublin museums, it’s free!

7. The Dublin Writers Museum

Writers Museum

Left: Fionn Mc Cann. Right: Tourism Ireland (both via Ireland’s Content Pool)

Last but by no means least is the Dublin Writers Museum. You’ll find it located in a beautiful decorated 18th-century mansion in Dublin City, a stone’s throw from the Garden of Remembrance.

Inside, you’ll discover a collection that boasts the works of Dublin’s literary heavyweight (Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett and more).

The museum tells their story through books, letters and personal items, with highlights from the museum including everything from Samuel Beckett’s phone to fascinating exhibitions.

8. The Croke Park Museum

crok park tour

Photos via Shutterstock

If you’re looking for a museum in Dublin that punches well above its weight, get yourself to Croke Park. Visitors here can head off on a museum/skyline tour combo.

First, take some time to step back in time and discover the rich history of sport in Dublin and across Ireland (interesting even if you’ve no interest in GAA).

Then make your way up to the skyline where you’ll ramble along Dublin’s highest open-viewing platform where you’ll be treated to mighty views of the city’s landmarks from beginning to end.

9. The Irish Whiskey Museum

Irish Whiskey Museum

Photos by Brian Morrison via Ireland’s Content Pool

The Irish Whiskey Museum is a fine spot to learn about the history of Irish whiskey (you get to sample several types, too!).

The tour takes you through 4 different rooms, each of which represents a different period in Irish history.

The tours are interactive and there are some tales that whiskey novices like myself should find interesting.

10. The Irish Rock ‘n’ Roll Museum Experience

Next up is one of the most unusual museums in Dublin – the Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll Museum. You find this place in Temple Bar, where it’s welcomed artists like Christy Moore and Rihanna over the years.

Those that step inside its doors will discover all things weird and wonderful related to the Irish music industry. 30 years of musical history come together in one big experience.

Visitors will receive an access all areas pass that’ll provide entry to the backstage area at the renowned Button Factory venue, behind the Wall of Fame and to the recording studios where Glen Hansard’s Oscar award-winning film Once was filmed.

11. MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland

Museum of Literature Ireland

Left: Helen Cole. Right: Antoinette Reilly (via Ireland’s Content Pool)

We’ve saved one of the best museums in Dublin till last – MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland. It’s within theses walls that you’ll discover Ireland’s rich literary heritage.

There’s immersive exhibitions, beautiful gardens and plenty more to discover here. Although it’s a while since I last visited, I remember the Historic House Tour as the highlight.

It’s here that you explore Numbers 85 and 86 on St Stephen’s Green. These are examples of Georgian architecture at it’s finest.

Dublin museums: Which ones have we missed?

I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant Dublin museums from the guide above.

If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!

FAQs about the best museums in Dublin

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which Dublin museums are free?’ to ‘What are the most interesting museums in Dublin?’.

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 museums in Dublin to visit this weekend?

Personally, I think it’s hard to beat EPIC, 14 Henrietta Street, Kilmainham Gaol and The Chester Beatty Museum.

What Dublin museums are free to enter?

The Irish Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Natural History and The Chester Beatty are all free to enter.

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António

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

Hi Keith! My wife and me will be in Dublin for the 1 April's weekend. We intend to visit one museum ( no time for more). I was curious about henrietta street and the little museum. What should be the right option for a senior visitant in his first time in Dublin. Thank's and congrats for your text. António Portugal

Keith O'Hara

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

Hey Antonio! So, one thing about both of the museums that you've mentioned is that there's several steep staircases to climb in both. This might not be a problem, but I wanted to flag it for you, just in case. Having visited both museums recently, I'd lean towards Henriatta St. Another good option is the EPIC Museum on the Quays. Have a great trip!

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