Dublin, Co Dublin
The National Museum of Ireland has four branches, and this one is known as much for its content as it is for the style in which it is arranged. Some even suggest that the Natural History Museum is actually a museum of museums, as it has been spectacularly maintained in its original Victorian style.
This Dr David Livingstone (of “Dr. Livingstone, I presume” fame) curated this museum before he disappeared into Africa. It’s a stronghold of taxonomy, with more than two million specimens stuffed, mounted or otherwise displayed in the museum. Locals jokingly refer to the natural history museum as ‘The Dead Zoo’. Animals perch at every turn – behind panes of glass, arranged in dioramas, floating in preservatives. It’s quirky and eclectic museum that has remained true to its origins.
The best exhibits are found in the Irish Room, which is populated with a host of indigenous species. There are hundreds of animals on display, but the showpiece is a collection of three Irish Elk skeletons. These beasts would have stood two metres tall at the shoulders, and their antlers alone would have weighed 40 kilograms. The skeletons are roughly 10,000 years old. There are plenty of other exhibits to enjoy. Mammals of the World begins with primates on the first floor and continues with a diverse collection of peculiar creatures. Pandas, Tasmanian tigers and rhinoceroses are all in the mix.
Some of the exhibits on the third floor balcony have been closed pending a safety review. This is one of the downsides of operating a free attraction. The museum is dearly loved but under-funded.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Sunday from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.