City Center Museums and Galleries
National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Sq. W, Clare St., City Center
Considering Dublin’s small size, the National Gallery is a testament to the central position it allows art and culture. A mix of old and new, the original building on Leinster Lawn has been in place since the 1800s, while the newer hyper-modern Millennium Wing opened in 2002. A huge campus-like space, the gallery has quite the collection of European art, with Velazquez, Rembrandt, Titian, and Van Gogh represented as well as a sizable collection of Irish works. The gallery’s crowning glory, however, is Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ, a long-lost work incredibly rediscovered in the '90s hanging in a Jesuit dining room in Ireland. Booking a tour or reserving tickets is not necessary; you can simply wander in and admire the art at your own pace. For those looking for more structure, the gallery runs a series of educational outreach programs and workshops for adults and kids alike.
The Little Museum of Dublin
15 St. Stephen's Green, City Center
A small but mighty gem of a museum that does its best to untangle the messy web that is Dublin's history through a series of rooms in a Georgian residence right on St. Stephen's Green. Each room traces different threads of the city's fabric including some of its more famous occupants (there's an entire room dedicated to born and bred Dubliners U2). For an informative but fun cultural activity with kids and teens, the guides are excellent raconteurs and bring 1,000 years of history to life with humor and insight. Afterward, walking down an extra flight of steps to the basement restaurant Hatch & Sons for some stellar Irish fare is never a bad idea.