Museum of Archaeology
* Kildare Street * Dublin 2, Co. Dublin, Ireland * +353 1 6777444 * http://www.museum.ie/ * Opening Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 5pm; Sunday: 2pm - 5pm ; Closed Mondays, Christmas Day and Good Friday *
The National Museum of Ireland has several museums throughout Dublin. One of its famous is the Archaeology Museum which is the national repository for all archaeological objects found in Ireland. The Museum boasts of over 2 million artifacts. It is Ireland's premiere collection of Irish material culture, heritage, and the natural world. The National Museum ws founded under the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act of 1877. Originally the collections were divided between the Leinster House and the Natural History Museum in Merrion Street. Under the new Act, the government had funding to purchase the museum buildings and collections, build proper facilities and storage space for the Leinster House collections, and construced this new custom-built museum on Kildare street for Archaeology opening on August 29, 1890. The purpose of the museum is to collect, preserve, promote, and exhibit all examples of Ireland's portable material culture and heritage, interpret the collections, promote them, and make them accessible to the world. They are also to become the authoritive voice on relevant aspects of Irish heritage, culture, and natural history so that they can maintain the lead role in education, research, and scholarship pertaining to the collections and its contexts. The Building that houses the collections was built in 1889-1890 and designed by Cork architects Thomas Newenham Deane and his son Thomas Manly Deane which has since become an architectural landmark because it was built in the Victorian Palladian style and has been compared with the Altes Museum in Berlin that was designed by Karl Schinkel in the 1820s. The Building's Neo-classical influences can be seen in the colonnaded entrance and the domed rotunda that is modelled after the Pantheon in Rome. The rotunda contains classical columns that are made of marble quarried from Counties Cork, Kilkenny, Galway, Limerick and Armagh in order to mirror the entrance. Its great centre court has a balcony that is supported by rows of slender cast-iron columns with elaborate capitals and bases and are decorated with groups of cherubs. The balcony hosts more rows of plain columns and attractive openwork spandrels that support the roof. The building's interior has rich motifs decorating the insides mimicking styles from Ancient Greece and Rome highlighted by mosaic floors with classical mythology scenes including the zodiac. The museum has several Permanent Exhibitions which are: (1) Or - Ireland's Gold Artifacts housing the finest collection of prehistoric gold artifacts in western Europe ranging from Celtic Iron Age metalworking up through medieval ecclesiastical objects and jewelry. These are also Ireland's collection of prehistoric goldworkings dating from 2200 BCE to 500 BCE including torques, knecklaces, bracellets, earrings, and objects of unknown use. The Early Bronze Age collections were made primarily from sheet gold into sundiscs, crescentic gold collars called lunulae, and then 1200 BCE new goldworking techniques creating torcs by twisting bars or strips of gold. The exhibit reflects the evoluion of the styles up to 900 BCE where goldworking was divided into two main types: solid objects including bracelets and dress-fasteners and the large sheets of gold collars and delicate ear-spools. (2) - Prehistoric Ireland: Is he exhibition that covers human settlement in Ireland from stone tools of the first hunter-gatherers in 7000 BCE to bronze weapons of the Late Bronze Age (500 BCE) highlighting a reconstructed Passage Tomb as the backdrop for the tools, pottery, and artifacts. The history covers introduction of metalworking (2500 BCE) and its evolution and changes. Displays of copper axes, daggers, shields, cauldrons, and cast bronze horns are amongst some of the highlighted artifacts. Jewelry made of glass, stone, and amber; wooden shields, wheels, and cauldrons are also exhibited. (3) - Kingship and Sacrifice: Is the exhibit covering Ireland's infamous Iron Age bog bodies found at Oldcroghan, Co. Offaly and Clonycavan, Co. Meath in 2003, and research up to date that has been conducted to understand them. Most of these bodies are believed to have been human sacrifice that were deposited in bogs along tribal boundaries to signify sovereignty and kingship rituals during the Iron Age. These collections includes items of royal regalia, horse trappings, weapons, feasting utensils, boundary markers and votive deposits of butter known as bog butter. (4) - The Treasure contains Iconic Treasures until the real exhibit is ready. These cover outstanding religious and secular metalworking that dates from Pagan Celtic Iron Age through the Middle Ages. Some highlights include the sumptuously ornamented Broighter gold collar, models of a boat, a cauldron, the Broighter Collar in La TÃ¨ne art style, eighth to ninth-Century â€˜Golden Ageâ€™ artifacts such as the Ardagh and Derrynaflan Hoards, the Moylough Belt Shrine, and the gilt silver 'Tara' Brooch. (5) - Viking Age: covering hoards of silver bullion, brooches, plain silver, and other artifacts from 800 CE to 1150 CE; history of Viking graves (9-10th centuries); rural life; nd remains of Dublin excavations from 1962-1981 demonstrating ecclesiastical metalwork of the 11th and 12th Centuries showing fusion of Scandinavian and Irish art styles at the close of the Viking Age. (6) - Medieval Ireland: 1150 - 1550 C.E. galleries labelled Power, Work and Prayer to reflect the three-fold division of medieval society - nobles, common people and clergy. It covers warfare, agriculture (pastoral and arable), import trade and the various crafts and industries operating in towns. Focuses on churches and faiths, religious practice and devotion as well as church furnishings. (7) - Ancient Egypt: Ireland's fabulous Egyptian collections display over 3,000 artifacts most of which were acquired from excavations carried out in Egypt between 1890-1920 ranging from the Stone Age to the Middle Ages. These include sites such as Hieraconpolis, Deir el-Bahri, Ehnasya, Oxyrhynchus, Tarkhan and Riqqa highlighting the gilt and painted cartonnage case of the mummy Tentdinebu (22nd Dynasty c. 945 - 716 BC); the mummy portraits of a woman and a young boy from Hawara (first/second Century AD); model of a wooden boat (early 12th Dynasty c. 1900 BC); and a number of important stelae, tomb furniture, offering tables, jewellery and household equipment. (8) - Ceramics and Glass from Ancient Cyprus: The displays to this collection show many artifacts that have never been exhibited before including ceramic pieces from tombs uncovered in the 19th Century. These artifacts range from the Bronze Age (2500 BCE) to the late Roman period (300 CE) including five clay figurines on loan from the Cyprus Museum Nicosia, ceramics, and glass. (9) - Life and Death in the Roman World: displaying artifacts that have been in storage in the National Museum of Ireland since the early 1920s demonstrating classical art and architecture consisting of glass vessels, textiles, sculpture, ceramics, coins, gemstones and architectural fragments from places as geographically diverse as Egypt, Austria and England. This exhibit also displays Etruscan material exploring the themes of 'Everyday Life'; 'Death, Burial and the Afterlife'; 'Religion'; 'Personal Adornment and Dress'; 'Entertainment'; and 'Imperial Power in the Roman world' and ends with the introduction of Christianity. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
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