Family Review: What We Love About The National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks

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Plane and Tank at Collins Barracks Museum

Have you ever visited Collins Barracks in Dublin or to give it its proper title, the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History? We recently sent a Mum along with her family to do a family review for us. Here are the things she (and we) love about the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History at Collins Barracks, and why you should visit this amazing place in Dublin.

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Perfect For All The Family

Cannons at Collins Barracks Museum

I was excited when Mykidstime asked if I would do a review of NMI Collins Barracks. We chose to visit on Fathers Day and what a great day to choose!

My six year old was excited for a nice day out and we brought my parents. They were super eager to visit here too. Especially my dad, as his father and grandfather had been in the armed forces, he really wanted to visit here.

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Easy To Get To

Entering Collins Barracks Museum

We parked at the Red Cow and jumped on the Red Luas line to the ‘Museum’ stop. When you get out, you just walk up a flight of steps and there you are.

Very impressive at first glance and a lot larger than we anticipated. The walk through into the main yard was loved by my daughter, she ran through an archway and awed as to how it towered all around her.

Everywhere is well sign posted, so we headed over to the reception to start our visit.

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Friendly And Welcoming

tank at Collins Barracks Museum

When you go in it is light and airy and the staff were smiling and friendly and happily answered our few questions. That day there were no activity sheets for children but, we were told there was an area on the first floor for children. In the end, we got so distracted with the exhibits, that we never found it!

There was just so much to see, and we got totally turned around, the maps made no difference…but that may just have been us.

Loads To See And Do

Gun at Collins Barracks Museum

Four floors of displays and exhibitions means you have plenty to choose from. Lots of the displays were interactive as well as informative as you progressed around, so my munchkin got her own level of fun from it.

Be aware though that a lot of the displays are very sensitive to flash photography so you are asked to refrain from taking photos in some places.

We had arrived at 1pm (opening time) and took a break at about 2.30pm and we still had only seen half the first floor and the arms area at that stage.

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Taking A Break

Courtyard at Collins Barracks Museum

We went to the onsite café, Brambles. It was as expected, clean and with a great selection of sweet and savoury, hot and cold. In my opinion, it is a little expensive, €30 for 3 adults and 1 child, but the quality was very good. My Dad said it was the best cup of coffee he had in a long time, and it was Father’s Day, so great that he enjoyed it. And you do have to remember that entry to the museum is free!

You could consider bringing along a packed/picnic lunch as an alternative, and enjoy it in the lovely grounds, if the weather is good.

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Time To See Even More!

So, once we had our little break, we headed back in and saw more beautiful and interesting displays.

Your visit will be based on the direction you choose to go, left or right. There really is no wrong choice. Each visit is unique as there is just so much to see and do and so may ways to discover all the museum has to offer.

I was really impressed with the clock, open for you to see the workings on the inside of the building. This clock features prominently when you are outside.

The staff that roam around the buildings are happy, enthusiastic and in many cases, passionate when they speak about the exhibitions.

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We’ll Be Back

We ‘had’ to leave in the end, due to time restraints but I think we only scratched the surface of what you could see there! We never even got close to the Asgard Yacht that is housed on the grounds but in another building.

All in, I can’t recommend enough a visit. Personally, I think there is something for everyone. We all agreed we want visit again and totally plan to.

Our Recommendations & Final Verdict

Favourites (and points out of) for the day:

  • My daughter, 6: The Fashion clothing exhibition and the little writing are nook. 5/5
  • My mother, 71: The Eileen Gray exhibition and the Albert Bender exhibition. 10/10
  • My father, 70: All the furniture displays and best cup of coffee in a long time. 99/100
  • My personal fave was when my dad found details on my great grandfather from 1916, he was so happy. Made the whole day complete.

Opening hours – Sun/Mon 1-5pm. Tues-Sat 10-5pm. Free Admission.
Lifts to all floors, so fully accessible. Toilets only on ground floor, due to security in the building.

Don’t forget to check the Museum’s Calendar of Events to see all the free, family friendly events taking place throughout the year.

Over to you now. Have you visited the NMI Collins Barracks? Please share your experiences with us in the comments box below. 



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