OPENING TIMES: – Tues – Sun 10am – 5pm. Sun 2pm – 5pm
I know that this is Irish history so having had it drilled into my head by various teachers over the years may have taken the sting and excitement off it a little but I still do feel a little bit like the Irish Museum of Decorative Arts and History (whoever the fuck decided that those two subject matters went well together), otherwise known as Collins Barracks, could have made a bit more of an effort in their presentation of the history of our country.
I’d never been to Collins Barracks before. The usual excuses of having lived in the country blah blah blah apply but it’s still quite a bit embarrassing, to say the least.
The first thing that greets you is the size and sense of history that the Barracks has. The building is beautiful and with it’s giant open courtyard it feels like you are really stepping into a proud and historic sight. It’s a bit annoying, then, that the museum itself is let down by pokey little rooms and little imagination in its exhibits as you get lost wandering back and forth up and down the corridors. It’s never quite clear if you’re allowed take photographs in any of the rooms as there are random “no photography” signs everywhere and nowhere. It’s really annoying because there seems no reason why you shouldn’t be allowed (there are very few exhibits that you feel would be effected by flash photography)
I liked the collection of guns that the museum had to offer and also spent a while wandering through the various random collections that were shoved into a few halls and cases out the back.
As for the decorative arts section there were a few interesting things including some beautiful Japanese paintings (no photos, please), a collection of clothes down through the ages and a strange but interesting section on fabrics and fashion in Ireland.
There was a special photo exhibition on September 11th the week that I was there which took me about 10 minutes of wandering around to find as it was over the far side of the barracks hidden upstairs above the cafe with no access from the main museum and little, if no, signage.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t check the museum out, by all means do, it’s our history and it’s a very interesting history. Just don’t be expected to be bowled over by it all.