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Chester Beatty Library

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If you're hungry for a little oriental spice, make a beeline for the Chester Beatty Library is a two minute walk from Trinity College on Dame Street, and sits within the gardens of Dublin Castle. Although named a library, it is in fact a world class museum and library, dubbed ‘ one of the best museums in Europe' by the Lonely Planet guides and awarded European Museum of the Year in 2002.

It houses the collections of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1865 - 1968) who amassed art and literature from across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. He bequeathed it to the Irish nation in 1956. The museum houses a stunning set of permanent exhibitions with a constant flow of temporary exhibitions.

There are two permanent exhibitions; ‘The Arts of the Book' comprises a collection of over 600 objects from the Ancient world. You will be awestruck by the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead while some of the most intricate and beautiful Islamic manuscripts covered in painstakingly beautiful calligraphy will take your breath away. Not to mention the world famous Chester Beatty Love Poems (circa 1160 BC), an Egyptian papyrus collection of seven love poems, alternating between the voice of the man and the woman. Highlights from East Asia include one of the most beautiful collections of Chinese Jade books in the world, along with a superb and stunning collection of Japanese picture-scrolls depicting ancient oriental legends and fables.

The second permanent exhibition is entitled ‘Sacred Traditions'. Visitors with an appetite for religious art and historically sacred texts can gorge themselves on the feast of items on display here. An insatiable amount of ancient texts and volumes are awaiting the enthralled visitor; East Asian and Buddhist manuscripts, Christian biblical Papyri including The Chester Beatty codex of Gospels and Acts (AD 250) and the Pauline Letters codex (c. AD 200) are special, being the oldest known copies of these Christian works while Islamic Qur'ans from the Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Mughal Indian empires adorn the museum, all centuries or even a millenium old, and illuminated with gold, silver and a hoard of other precious metals will definitely draw gasps. There are smaller collections on Confucianism, Daoism, Sikhism and Jainism. The museum has an excellent audio visual presentation on the diverse faiths. There is a selection of ancient manuscripts, ranging from Pharaohic, Greco-Roman to Coptic Egypt texts.

Even for those with no interest in religious texts, the beautiful exhibit more than warrants a visit and admiration for the breadth of the collection and the significance and influence of these stunning world texts.

Make sure to check in advance what temporary exhibits might also be available during the time of your visit; they are sure not to disappoint!

A gift shop holds an eclectic mix of objets d'art, specialist books and multi faith souvenirs.

The Silk Road Café will refresh and revive you with a mouth-watering range of treats and dishes from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Europe and Indian Continent.

This quiet and often over-looked and free museum is the hidden gem of Dublin's museums, do not miss it.

Entrance is free and the museum is open:
1 May to 30 September: Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 5.00pm
1 October to 30 April: Tuesday to Friday, 10.00am to 5.00pm
Saturday, 11.00am to 5.00pm (All year)
Sunday, 1.00pm to 5.00pm (All year)
Closed 1 January; Good Friday; 24, 25 and 26 December; and Monday public holidays.


 
 

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