Collins Barracks is a former military barracks in the Arbour Hill area of Dublin, Ireland. The buildings now house the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History.
In December 1988, the decision was taken at government level to close Collins Barracks as a military installation, and following consultation with a number of committees formed for the purpose, plans were made in September 1993 to develop the site as an extra venue for the National Museum of Ireland. This important decision ensured that the earliest purpose-built residential barracks on these islands was restored for museum use. It also allowed for the display of museum collections that had been in storage since 1922, when government took over the museum exhibition galleries and curatorial offices in Leinster House.
The displays at Collins Barracks begin at the Reception area. As this was previously the Privates’ Mess, it is here that the museum salutes the site’s military past with plans, photographs and Illustrations of the area since the 1660s.
The galleries in the South and West Blocks are divided in general into two different philosophical approaches. For the three large galleries of the south block the curators selected material thematically.
On the first floor is a major exhibition of Irish silver, while the second floor is devoted to Irish period furniture and scientific instruments. Irish traditional furniture and woodcraft is displayed on the third floor. In the main galleries on the West Block the aim is that, through the selection of material from different disciplines and periods, the visitor will learn about the national collections, our cultural history and the story of the museum.
More recently, the East Block of Clarke Square has been used to house the ‘What’s in Store?’ section, a modern ‘visible storage’ facility that allows visitors to see important collections of artefacts that would otherwise be inaccessible to the public
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