The National Museum of Ireland contains a wide range of diverse collections, predominately concerned with the history, art and culture of Ireland. It is a great museum, which contains thousands of artifacts from prehistory to modern times.
The current impressive building in Kildare Street was erected in the late 1900s, along classical lines. Marble was used extensively and the influence of Roman and Greek civilizations can be seen in the interior décor. The mosaic floors are particularly inspiring, as is the soaring sight of the cupola as you enter the building.
There are six main permanent collections, which include, Prehistoric Ireland, Viking Age Ireland, Ancient Egypt, The Treasury and Ireland's Gold.
The museum's collections are spread over two main buildings. The Kildare Street site contains mostly exhibits relating to Celtic, Viking and Middle Ages art and history, including the famous Ardagh Chalice, the Cross of Cong and Tara Brooch. A large section is devoted to prehistoric times, including many significant archaeological finds from the Bronze and Iron Ages. Ireland's oldest surviving boat dating back to 2500BC is also on display.
The influence of the Vikings on Irish culture and history is explored and there are several exhibits displaying Viking weapons, ornaments and tools, including decorative Norwegian swords.
The 'Bog Bodies', which are central to the Kingship & Sacrifice Exhibition, are tastefully displayed and is one of the many highlights of this museum. There are also large collections of gold and religious artifacts on display.
The other main museum building is located at Collins Barracks at Arbour Hill. It contains many fine art collections as well as exhibits dealing with Ireland's political life, in particular the events leading up to the formation of the Irish Free State.
There is a gift shop selling a wide range of goods including books, jewelry and replica weapons as well as a museum café, located in a lovely setting where you can relax and enjoy a light snack and drink.
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