The National Gallery of Ireland was founded in the 1860s after a successful exhibition at the Great Industrial Exhibition in 1853. The current building was completed in 1864. Initially the Gallery was without a collection, but thanks to an annual allowance it quickly grew. By the start of the 20th century, the museum was out of space. It has been expanded several times since. The most recent, the Millennium Wing, opened in 2002 and is a great example of modern architecture.
The collection housed in the National Gallery is excellent. Today the collection consists of more than 14,000 pieces from the 13th up through the 20th century. The most famous painting is Caravaggio's The Taking of Christ. Other European master represented include Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, Poussin, Titian, and Canaletto. The museum also has the finest display of Irish artists anywhere. The National Portrait collection is also housed here.
The National Gallery, as one might expect in a small country like Ireland, can't compete with the great art museums of Europe and the United States. Nevertheless, the collection is still quite impressive. You can easily spend an entire afternoon here, and it's more relaxing than some of Dublin's other main attractions. The price is right too (though there is usually a charge for temporary exhibitions), and free guided tours are available on weekends. Save it for a rainy day.
Location: Merrion Square West, Southeast Dublin
Telephone: +353 01 661 5133
Hours: Open daily; 09:30-17:30 Monday through Saturday (until 8:00 on Thursday), 12:00-17:30 Sunday
Admission: Free admission.