Dublin Museums and Galleries
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Military Rd., Kilmainham
The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Ireland’s premier contemporary museum space is imaginatively, if somewhat ironically, housed in the country’s oldest classical building, the Royal Kilmainham Hospital. It was founded in 1684 as a home for retired soldiers and very much based on Les Invalides in Paris. IMMA’s mission is to merge modern Irish life with contemporary art exhibits, live performances, and educational initiatives that are open and participatory. A recent coup for the museum is securing 50 of Lucien Freud’s greatest works on loan for the next five years. This has spurred a deep dive into the world of Freud with the exhibit itself, a lunchtime lecture series, and a special Freud Project residency (won by Irish artist Bridget O’Gorman and artist, writer, and researcher Sue Rainsford). After a wander through the airy galleries, pick up a hot coffee from the pretty little café and wander aimlessly through the surrounding gardens.
National Gallery of Ireland
Merrion Square West, Clare St., CityCenter
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 Hugh Lane
Charlemont House, Parnell Square
The Hugh Lane is the world’s first known modern art gallery, housed in a classically designed Georgian townhouse overlooking the Garden of Remembrance. Small and intimate, this well-curated space features a sizable collection by modern Irish artists, like Louis Le Brocquy, Jack B. Yeats, and Sean Scully, alongside Impressionist masterpieces by Manet, Degas, and Monet. This gallery’s biggest draw is the complete installation of Francis Bacon’s studio, meticulously re-created in all its chaotic brilliance. You can see this installation from all angles thanks to glass panels. It also provides a complete computerized archive—the first of its kind in the world. Browse through the well-appointed bookstore, then step out into the heart of Parnell Square, one of Georgian Dublin’s oldest neighborhoods.
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