Dublin, Co Dublin
Housed in the Collins Barracks in Dublin, this branch of the National Museum of Ireland impresses even before you’ve walked through the front doors. The exhibits focus on the arts, crafts and wares of Ireland – covering everything from Irish coins to the gauntlets of kings.
The barracks building was completed in the early 18th century and was designed by Thomas Burgh, the same architect who worked on the Old Library at Trinity College. The barracks are named for Michael Collins, a freedom fighter who died in the Civil War. In so many words, the building itself is an icon. In fact, few people call it the ‘Decorative Arts and History Museum’. This is the Collins Barracks, regardless of what’s kept inside.
That said, there’s plenty inside to enjoy. On the ground floor is a relatively recent addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits – The Easter Uprising: Understanding 1916. It explores the social, economic and cultural background of the rising, with insight into the politics and personalities behind it. Central to the exhibit is an original copy of the Proclamation of the Republic.
Head to the first floor to see one of the largest collections of silver in the world – and all of it sourced from Ireland. You’ll also find a thousand years’ worth of Irish coins on display on this floor.
The highlight of the second floor is the Irish Country Furniture exhibit. Central to this is a reconstructed Irish country kitchen. There’s another furniture exhibit on the same floor that follows the work of 20th-century designer, Eileen Gray. Up one more floor, The Way We Wore exhibit displays period clothing and jewellery from the 18th through the 20th centuries.