365 Places: Museum of Natural History, Dublin

Day 63: Museum of Natural History, Dublin, Ireland

While we are on the topic of museums, today I would like to reminiscence about my 1999 trip to Dublin, where I visited many galleries and museums. One museum in particular stands out in my memory, the Museum of Natural History. This place has a great nickname, “The Dead Zoo” reflecting the wonderful sense of humour of the Irish.

The Natural History Museum in Dublin is the oldest museum in Ireland having been opened by Doctor David Livingstone in 1857. This museum is very engaging if only for the immense variety of “stuffed” subjects. There are animals from all around the world in the collection, and I was stunned by the size some of the Australian marsupials, which many must have been caught in the early days of European occupation, as we do not have kangaroos or wombats at the size represented in this collection anymore.

The collection is expansive with over 10,000 items on display and over 2 million in storage. That is a lot of stuffed animals, birds, reptiles and preserved insects.

There is great attention to detail to the exhibits in the collection. In reference to the above image from the Irish mammals collection:

One of a series of very popular exhibits was made by the Dublin taxidermy firm of Williams & Son. They produced ‘family groups’ of badgers, otters and pine martens. These mammals are characteristic of the Irish landscape. Badgers are active at night, seeking out pastureland where they feed on earthworms, as well as many other ingredients in a highly varied diet.

One of the things I love about visiting museums and galleries is many of them are free to visit – not the ones in New York, but many in Australia and other countries have free admission, such as the Dead Zoo.

The Museum of Natural History is centrally located on Merrion Street, Dublin 2, next door to the National Gallery. Use this Google map to find your way.

Useful information:
Ireland’s Hidden Gems