Our first full day in Dublin was Museum Day. Anyone who knows us well knows our love for art and old stuff, so it should come as no surprise that we would spend our first day in a new place at a museum (or several).
First up was the National Gallery. It is a pretty small museum, housing mostly paintings from the 17th through 20th centuries. We wandered through, weaving around school groups (side note: Irish children are ADORABLE, especially in a museum answering questions asked by the docent). There was a nice Caravaggio, a beautiful Vermeer, and a great Picasso. There was also a whole wing of just Irish artists, which was pretty neat. The collection was great – small but rich in depth – but the layout of the museum was pretty bad. It was confusing and there were no signs. We were never sure whether we were supposed to be going through a door or not, and there were a lot of doors, for some reason. We still had a nice time, regardless.
Next was the Natural History Museum, which was probably one of the weirdest museums I’ve ever been in. It was basically just full of animals that had been stuffed and posed in cases imitating their natural habitat. Apparently someone once referred to it as a “dead zoo,” which is just about as appealing as it sounds. It was interesting in that it perfectly demonstrated how early museums were set up, but it was disturbing to see all those dead animals all in one place.
After the dead zoo, we wandered over to the National Library, which was a really beautiful building. There wasn’t much to see there besides an exhibit about Yeats, which was interesting, so we didn’t spend much time there. Apparently, though, there is a free genealogical service there that will help you find your Irish ancestors. Pretty cool!
Finally it was time for lunch. We found a great little Italian place close to the Library, Dunne and Crescenzi, which was amazing. The staff is all Italian and the walls are lined with wine bottles. The menu is large enough for good variety, but not overwhelming. We both had panini, since it was lunch time – Chris had porchetta with sun-dried tomatoes and I had buffalo mozzarella with zucchini. Both sandwiches were sublime and we will definitely be going back for dinner to try other things on the menu.
After our re-fuel, we headed over to the Archaeology Musem, which, despite having an understandable lack of Roman stuff, was pretty kick ass. It was a big museum, and we were there for about two and a half hours (Chris takes a loooooot of pictures…). The first floor was all about ancient Ireland, and it was amazing to see how a lot of the artifacts from that era looked so similar to those of the same period from Greece or Italy. There was a huge longboat, from about 2500 BC, that had been preserved perfectly in a bog. Speaking of bogs, there were also a few bog bodies which were fascinatingly disgusting. We saw a lot of gold work, spanning from ancient times to the Middle Ages. The level of craftsmanship on some of the pieces was extraordinary.
We didn’t have time to really see the second floor, which was Medieval and Viking Ireland, as well as a smaller Ancient Egypt section, but we might go back to check those out if we have time. Right now, we’re resting our poor feet before Noon comes home to whisk us off for drinks and dinner. Should be a fun night!
Pictures to come!