10 Free Museums in Dublin | Have FUN And Save Money!

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For Dublin council, culture is not a matter of price. Thanks to government-funded and donation-based facilities, the “Town of the Ford of the Hurdle” will take you on a complimentary tour to most of its best museums.  

From streets to castles, the capital city is proud to unveil some of its most valuable treasury. Whether you’re an abstract art enthusiast, a world-culture aficionado, a science junkie or simply curious to discover what Irish artists have to offer; get ready for an epic journey.

Dublin is considered as one of the most expensive cities to live in Europe. Yet, between costless parks, open festivals, public performances and historical architecture; the metropolis bustles with activities that won’t cost you a penny. Over in Ireland has listed for you 10 free museums to explore in the metropolis.

#1 IMMA, The Irish Museum of Modern Art

Based inside the 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham and surrounded by gardens, the Irish Museum of Modern Art is a stunning location for an absolute artistic immersion. Over 3,500 international pieces of modern and contemporary arts are in exhibit within the premises. The institution focuses primarily on works from the 1940s onwards. Moreover, pieces change and increase yearly thanks to loan and donations.

Every Sunday from 2PM to 4PM (time subjects to change seasonally), a free family art-making program/workshop is to experience at the IMMA.

Every Wednesdays (1.15PM), Saturdays and Sundays (2.30PM), a 30-minute free general tour starts from the main reception.

Address:

Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Military Rd, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday – Friday: 11.30AM – 5.30PM
  • Saturday: 10.00AM – 5.30PM
  • Sunday: 12PM – 5.30PM
  • Bank Holiday Monday: 12PM – 5.30PM

Note:

Most of the exhibitions are free but beware that some require a ticket.

#2 The Hugh Lane Gallery

Located in the 18th century Charlemont House, The Hugh Lane Gallery highlights over 2,000 European artworks. Open in 1908, it is presumably the earliest public hall for modern arts in the world. The gallery exhibits paintings from Monet, Renoir, and many Irish skilful art masters.

The primary and most iconic feature must be Bacon’s mythical studio and records. Indeed the entire room was disassembled in London and, thoroughly reassembled in Dublin. An inventory of the 7,000 items found was indexed into a database. This digital catalogue is the first of its kind worldwide.

Workshops at the “Learning Resource Centre” or the kid’s club can be arranged upon request.

Address:

Charlemont House, Parnell Square N, Rotunda, Dublin, D01 F2X9, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday to Thursday 9:45AM – 6PM
  • Friday 9:45AM – 5PM 
  • Saturday 10AM – 5PM 
  • Sunday 11AM – 5PM

Note:

The museum runs free concerts each Sunday at noon, since 1975 and, from September to June.

#3 Chester Beatty Library

The Chester Beatty Library is situated within Dublin Castle’s grounds. From Iran to Ethiopia, Jainism to ancient Egypt belief and, textiles to palm leaves; the museum hides a global anthology and treasures dating back to 2,700 BC. Moreover, with over 260 Korans, the museum possesses some of the world-best Islamic collection.

Because of their international exhibitions, the institution coordinates multicultural and intercultural events such as Diwali, Chinese New Year or Norouz.

Complementary programs and activity packs are available for children and families. Free “Creative Teen labs” and “Drop-in drawing” are set up for youngsters. Technical studios, art discussions and tours are scheduled at no cost.

Address:

Dublin Castle, Dublin 2, D02 AD92, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Friday 10AM–5PM
  • Saturday 11AM–5PM
  • Sunday 1PM–5PM
  • Closed Mondays: Nov – Feb
  • Closed 1 Jan, Good Friday,  24-26 Dec & Monday Public Holidays

#4 The National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

The National Gallery of Ireland showcases masterpieces since its opening in 1864. With over 16,000 artworks, and artists such as Caravaggio, Margaret Clarke, Picasso and Jack B. Yeats; any European genres and styles are on display. Besides the 2,600 paintings, you will also come across silverware, sculptures, drawing and household goods from the 14th century to nowadays.

Free audio tours will lead you through the permanent collections, including influential Irish canvas.

If you are visiting with children, the Atrium hides the “Maples and Calder Creative Space”. This area supplies a space and as well as free drawing materials. 

Address:

Merrion Square W, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday 11AM – 5.30PM
  • Tuesday – Saturday 9.15AM – 5.30PM
  • Thursday 9.15AM – 8.30PM
  • Sunday 11AM – 5.30PM

Note:

Photographs are authorised in most of the premise except for special zones (or when indicated so).

Yoga classes, talks and baby workshops can be booked for a small fee.

#5 The National Library of Ireland, Dublin

The National Library of Ireland is where Irish heritage and historical archives are cautiously cared and stored. The collection is divided into four categories:

  • In the Printed Collection, you will find regular and official publications, maps, music and books.
  • In the Visual Collection, you will discover drawings, photographs and ephemera.
  • In the Digital Collection, you will explore “Born Digital” materials. In other words, only generated in electronic formats. You will also find electronic versions of real documentation held in another place.
  • The Manuscript Collection offers access to priceless manuscripts and precious books. However, you will need to pre-order them by filling up the form on their website. https://www.nli.ie/en/accessing-manuscripts.aspx.

If you are searching for your Irish ancestry records, the Irish Genealogy Room offer services and resources that might lead you to your ancestors.

Address:

Kildare St, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours:

The different services, reading rooms and exhibitions operate on different schedule. Please refer to their website for more information. (https://www.nli.ie/en/opening-hours.aspx)

Note:

Some rooms’ access requires a “reader’s ticket”. You will need to provide an official document with a photo on it (passport or driving licence). The office is open:

  • Monday to Friday 10AM-12PM and 2PM-4PM
  • Monday to Wednesday 5PM-7.45PM
  • Saturday 9.30AM-12.45PM

#6 The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum, also known as the “Dead Zoo”, was built in the 1850s. From the “Jurassic Skies” to the “Mammals of the World”, their four floors display several peerless exhibitions. Surrounded by 10,000 preserved bugs and huge predators, do not expect the tour to be glamorous. The “Irish Room”, located on the ground floor of this “cabinet’ style” setting, is committed to the “Irish Fauna”. In this section, you will discover the local animal life as well as the land’s endangered and instinct species.

The reading room is the ideal quiet space to learn more about the exposed animals. This area will also provide you with useful resources and valuable publications about other subjects associated with Natural History.

Address:

Merrion St Upper, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday: Closed in the morning
  • Tuesday to Saturday 10AM-5PM
  • Sunday & Monday 1PM- 5PM
  • Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Good Friday

Note:

If you are reluctant to taxidermy, that might not be the place for you.

#7 The National Archaeology Museum

The Archaeology Museum hides a great collection of artefacts dating back from the prehistoric era and early Christian Ireland. You will uncover the treasures of Medieval Ireland and find out how the Viking transformed the country.  The extensive site displays eight permanent and three temporary exhibits in total.  The structure itself, built in 1890, is a piece of art.

If you want to uncover more about the past, you can assist to one of the many creative and educational workshops at no cost. Improve your calligraphic skills, find out how first farmers in Ireland used to make clay pots or learn a 9,000-year-old fishing practice. 

Address:

Kildare St, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday: Closed in the morning
  • Tuesday to Saturday 10AM-5PM
  • Sunday & Monday 1PM- 5PM
  • Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Good Friday

Note:

Free tours focused on The Winter Solstice at Newgrange, a 5000-year-old Passage Tomb, are on every 21st of December.

#8 Collins Barrack Decorative Arts & History Museum

The Decorative Arts & History Museum has the most substantial compilation of artefacts in the country. This 200-year-old army base was converted into a museum in 1997. With over 20 exhibitions and 16,000 pieces, you will get lost in this giant maze of History. From authentic Irish clothing to Japanese pottery, allow yourself plenty of time if you do not want to miss a thing.

Your entire family can enjoy free craft activities, dress in replica uniforms or enjoy the “New Furniture” interactive space. Also, last Sunday of most months, you can participate in free public tours.

Address:

Collins Barracks, Benburb St, Arran Quay, Dublin, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • Monday: Closed in the morning
  • Tuesday to Saturday 10AM-5PM
  • Sunday & Monday 1PM- 5PM
  • Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday

Note:

If you are looking for a unique venue, The Riding School, used at the time for horse and cavalry training, is for hire.

#9 Dublin Science Gallery “Where science and art collide”

Located in Trinity College, The Science Gallery is the place where science slams into arts. This cultural scene, in a constant permutation, exposes three exhibits yearly.

The museum is both an educational and recreational experience. From falsehood to the end of humanity or violence to love, every showing is pure interactive genius. The work of art, intentionally designed to engender social interrelations, results from the collaboration between creators and researchers —including artists, innovators, scientists, creatives and students.

At the end of your tour, you can always explore the shop and buy yourself human heart chocolate or an epic thumb wrestling game.

Address:

The Naughton Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Pearse St, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours:

  • As per its exhibits, permanent change in opening hours.

The shop is opened daily from 9AM to 5PM.

Note:

For group visits, please contact: tours@dublin.sciencegallery.com

#10 Self-Guided Street Art Tour

Picture of Dublin Street Art

Global street artists have left their print all over Dublin. From printmakers to graffers, abstract to portraits, the capital city hides an outdoor museum full of hidden gems.

Dublinwalls.com has drawn four different routes to explore. These paths reveal different coloured pins —one per artist. Each one features a photo of the work and links to its creator’s website and its specific position.

  • The 1st route starts in Stirrup Lane and ends in Francis Street. The 1.5km-walk goes from Smithfield to Dublin 8 and covers pieces from Dan Leo to the collective “Subset”.   
  • The 2nd route starts in Harold Cross and ends in Peters Place. It crosses compositions from ADW, Fink, Maser, LeBas and many others. The 6.1km-walk goes from Portobello to Dublin 6 (Advice: Split the walk in half and stop for an artistic pint at Bernard Shaw).
  • The 3rd route starts in Grantham Street and ends at the Blooms Hotel. It passes artworks from KinMx, Solus, Banksy (and so much more) and passes through the colourful Liberty lane. The 2.5km-walk goes from Temple Bar to Dublin 2.
  • The 4th route starts in Grattan Street and ends at Tara Building. The 2.5km-walk goes from the Quays to Dublin 2 and comprises treasures from Omnious Omin, James Earley, Bordalo and many others.

More Free Activities in Dublin

  • Walk on Grafton Street and listen to the buskers’ Music live performances. Check out the (free) yearly World Street Performance Championship.
  • Listen to the Palestrina Choir in Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on Sunday Mass (11AM)
  • People-watch in Merrion Square, Iveag and Dubh Linn Gardens or look for squirrels at the National Botanic Gardens.
  • Go to Phoenix Park, explore the 7km² and:
  • spot one of the 450 wild deer
  • visit Ashtown Castle at no cost
  • go on a free guided tour of Magazine Fort or/and the President of Ireland’s House (for both ask for a free admission ticket at Phoenix Park visitor centre before entering the premises)
  • gaze at the 35-meter high Papal Cross that under which the Pope John Paull II celebrated mass and gathered over 1 million people
  • Head to Temple Bar farmer’s market or Ha’Penny flea market.
  • Discover Trinity College and admire its neo-classical style.
  • Stroll in Henrietta Street, full of flawless brick houses dating back to the mid-18th century.
  • Go on a 3-hour walking journey with Sandeman’s Dublin Tour: from the City Hall on Dame Street, every day, 11AM and 2PM.
  •  Explore the Grand Canal
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