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National Museum of Ireland - Natural History

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Would you like to cause an earthquake or handle a dolphin skull? Or perhaps you'd like to hear about the eel that choked on a frog? All this and much more is available at the Natural History museum from the National Museum of Ireland.

Often known as the ‘Dead Zoo' to Dubliners, the Natural History museum is located opposite the National Art Gallery, on Merrion Street, just a ten minute stroll from Grafton Street, Dublin's main shopping area.

The museum itself has a very ‘olde worlde' feel, with lots of dark wood flooring and antique cabinet glass frames. Visitors feel as though they have been transported back in time to the late 19 th century, and this certainly sets a tone of exploration and discovery as you wander through the collection of skeletal and taxidermy animals. For this reason it is often described as a ‘museum within a museum'.

The growing collections of the Royal Dublin Society during the 18 th and 19 th centuries demanded both more space and easy access for the public domain thus the museum was built in 1856.

Ready for your inspection is a fantastic zoological collection of extinct and modern animals, birds and insects which has changed little in over 100 years. Most of the creatures are displayed inside standalone glass cabinets, allowing you to see the real 360 degree dimensions and quirks of many of the displayed animals.

The museum underwent a major restoration in 2010, however currently only two floors of the museum are open; it is not known when the upper floors will be reopened.

On the open two floors you will find the ‘Irish Fauna' exhibit, where you can learn all about and view indigenous Irish mammals, birds, sea life, predators and insects both past and present. A highlight in this area is the exhibit of the indigenous red deer, an animal long extinct on Irish soil.

The second floor houses a very impressive ‘Mammals of the World' exhibit, home to a vast selection of mammals from apes and monkeys to rodents such as hamsters and squirrels, to otters, anteaters and yes… tigers.

The museum has recently installed a very child friendly ‘Discovery Zone', including exhibits which can be held and investigated by little hands, such as a whale and a dolphin skull, a snarling wolf and badger and lots of freshwater creepy crawlies. Watch out for the hairy tarantula!

Also available is a ‘Reading Room' full of reference books where children and adults alike can learn more about the creatures they have just seen.

Allow about two hours for your visit if you want to see everything, and the museum is certainly less crowded on weekdays, so this is the ideal time to bring children.

As there is no cloakroom in this museum, be sure to bring only those items you really need. The museum does allow for artists to enter; but only drawing with dry materials is allowed.

Entrance is free, and the museum is open:
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 2pm - 5pm
Closed Mondays (including Bank Holidays), Christmas Day and Good Friday.


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