Known to generations of Dubliners as the “Dead Zoo”, this is a perennial rainy day favourite with kids.
Most of the collection dates from Victorian times, a period when killing and stuffing endangered wild animals, stealing nests and eggs and accumulating eccentric collections of objects from nature were very popular and respectable pursuits.
Some of the animals are incredibly life like and that they have survived so long is testament to the Victorians’ skills at taxidermy.
Inside the Natural History Museum by Lfc Cowboy
The museum itself is something of a museum piece and is largely unaltered since Victorian times. Sadly this was partly to blame for an unfortunate accident when an old staircase suddenly collapsed in 2007, injuring several people. This foccused attention on the urgent need for renovation and forced the museum to close. Work on the building is now partially completed and the museum reopened two years later, however some exhibits are still not available to the public and more work is required.
Sadly the closed exhibitions include a couple of my favourites – the Evolutionary Trail and a display of birds nests, exquisitely constructed and made from an amazing variety of materials. However it is still worth visiting and remains one of the best place to go in Dublin on a rainy day, or indeed any day.
What You’ll See
There are about 10,000 items on display drawn from a collection of more than 2 million specimens held by the Museum.
The ground floor is dedicated to animals native to Ireland and includes some ancient and sadly now extinct animals, such as the Great Irish Deer, as well as more recent arrivals, such as mink, originally imported for fur farming but now plentiful in the wild.
Many of the mammals are arranged in family groups placed in displays that replicate their natural surroundings and some are so lifelike you expect they will move at any moment. There are also birds, aquatic mammals and fish in this exhibit.
The first floor is dedicated to Mammals of the World and has a Discovery Zone where visitors can handle taxidermy and peek into drawers to discover what’s inside.
There are regular special events, tours and lectures, with a particular emphasis on family activities. Guided tours, which take about 45 minutes are an excellent way to get an overview of the museum, and are led by enthusiastic, knowledgeable and entertaining guides.
Visiting the Museum
The museum is open all year from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm to 5pm on Sundays and is free to enter. It is within easy walking distance of all parts of Dublin city centre.
A visit of 1-2 hours will give you a good flavour of the place and Dubliners are not wrong – it is a great place to take kids when the weather turns nasty.
Map and Directions for Natural History Museum Dublin
Click the map marker for walking or driving directions.