Museums and visitor attractions reopening this May

While the likes of Dublin Zoo, The National Botanic Gardens and Arbour Hill Cemetery are already welcoming visitors, indoor attractions are getting ready to reopen throughout the month of May.

Here’s our round-up of what’s opening, when and which venues require a booking:

Opening May 10th:

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

Recently voted Europe’s leading tourist attraction for the second year in a row, EPIC’s 20 galleries will be reopening to the public this Monday.

The museum’s one-way route, along with reduced visitor numbers and stylus pens for touchscreens, will put everyone at ease.

Located in the CHQ Building, entry to EPIC will be spaced out so it’s a good idea to book a timeslot in advance. Book tickets here.

Chester Beatty

Based in the grounds of Dublin Castle, Chester Beatty displays the collection of former mining magnate Sir Alfred Chester Beatty.

The collection is largely made up of Asian, Islamic and Western manuscripts. At the end of month, its Edo in Colour exhibition will also feature hundreds of Japanese prints and printed books.

You can check out the roof garden or explore the grounds of Dublin Castle during your trip as well. Admission is free.

Little Museum of Dublin

The Little Museum of Dublin will be running guided and self-guided tours with a limited capacity. However, the museum is also running a series of hour-long outdoor tours across the road in St Stephens’ Green.

Every day, visitors can hear about the Georgian park’s history as an urban battlefield, a deadly gallows and a haven for writers. Visitors can choose between The Big Little Treasure Hunt, The Writers of Dublin Walking Tour or The Green Mile Walking Tour. Book your tickets here.

National Gallery of Ireland

On Merrion Square, the National Gallery will return with a new exhibition showcasing all of its acquisitions from the past decade – many of which are on display for the first time.

Visitors can explore the gallery’s permanent collection and free exhibitions too.

Whether you’re after free general admission or want to visit a paid exhibition, you’ll now need to book in advance. You can choose a day here.

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum will be reopening a number of locations this month.

Near Stoneybatter, you can visit the museum of Decorative Arts & History in Collins Barracks. It has permanent exhibitions on Eileen Grey and the ‘Irish Wars’. Then there’s fashion pieces from Ib Jorgensen and a collaborative project with the Design and Crafts Council too.

Over on Kildare Street, the museum of Archaeology features exhibitions on the Battle of Clontarf and Glendalough. No bookings are required.

Croke Park GAA Museum

For football fans, access to the GAA Museum and Croke Park’s skyline tours will be returning this month. The capacity for each tour is limited, so tickets must be booked in advance. You can get them here.

The Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin

Visitors can check out the Book of Kells and Trinity College’s Long Room library once again this month. Its summer opening hours mean it’s open every day from 9.30am to 5pm.

All tickets will have to be booked online, but under 12s go free. Get your tickets here.

Goethe-Institut Irland

The Goethe-Institut on Merrion Square will be reopening the Return Gallery where visitors can check out ‘RE/MAINS OF THE DAZE’ – an exhibition about exhibitions.

Put together in collaboration with NCAD, it explores three historical shows that disrupted the modernist construct of the exhibition. Its library will also be open for anyone who wants to borrow or return a book.

Whitefriar Street Church

From Monday, limited numbers of people will be allowed into Whitefriar Street Church. They can attend mass, light candles and visit the relics of St. Valentine, which were gifted to the church by the Vatican.

Olivier Cornet Gallery

On Great Denmark Street beside Belvedere College, the contemporary Olivier Cornet Gallery will be running an exhibition of new paintings by its own artist Eoin Mac Lochlainn.

Later in the month, an exhibition from Dublin-born, Cyprus-based artist Miriam McConnon will be on display too.

National Library of Ireland

On Kildare Street, the public can explore the National Library’s exhibitions, which include a multi-sensory exploration of Seamus Heaney, an exhibition on W.B. Yeats and a look at how World War I impacted the people of Ireland.

‘From Turmoil to Truce’ also displays photographs from the War of Independence.

Dublin Castle

From Monday, the castle will be offering self-guided tours of the State Apartments and a new exhibition at the Coach House Gallery.

The exhibition features 100 lithographs by Irish artist Liam Ó Broin. Depicting Dante’s Divine Comedy, they aim to mark the poet’s death 700 year ago.

The Lab Gallery

The Lab Gallery in Foley Street will be reopening with a group exhibition by artists with disabilities.

Entitled ‘A Consideration of All Bodies’, it reflects the artists’ experiences of navigating a world that wasn’t designed for them. Since May 5th, the exhibition has been visible from the street. But it will be fully open from Monday.

The National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime Museum reopens its doors at 1pm on Monday 10th, with the Baily Lighthouse Optic, Captain Halpin and his transatlantic cables, and many other fascinating exhibits on display in the Mariners’ Church in Dun Laoghaire. Details and online ticket sales here.

Opening May 11th:

Marsh’s Library

Just beside St Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library has been perfectly preserved since it first opened as Ireland’s first public library in 1707. Drop by to see some of its beautiful books, which date as far back as the Renaissance period.

Hugh Lane Gallery

On Parnell Square North, the Hugh Lane is ready to showcase some new hangings.

Downstairs, the ‘Lane Legacy’ features impressionist paintings from Manet, Degas, Monet and Corot. Upstairs, a new hang celebrates the centenary of self-taught Irish artist Cecil King. It’s displayed alongside the gallery’s collection of his work.

There’s no need to book a spot and you’ll find the gallery’s additional online programme of talks and videos here.

National Print Museum

The National Print Museum, which is celebrating its 25th birthday, will be welcoming both drop-ins and bookings.

As well as its permanent display, the museum’s temporary exhibition space will feature ‘Locked Up in Lockdown’, which explores art printed during Ireland’s lockdown. It features pieces from Maser, Annie Atkins and Damn Fine Print.

Admission will be free from this week. To avoid any wait times, booking in advance is a good idea too. You can do that here.

Temple Bar Gallery + Studios

On Tuesday, Temple Bar Gallery + Studios will open its long-awaited group exhibition Agitation Co-op. The exhibition looks at the subject of landscape from a range of viewpoints, including social and political ideologies, as well as mapping and topography. It’s accompanied by an online programme too.

Open Tuesday to Saturday, admission is free and no booking is required. Although only six visitors can enter at a time.


From Tuesday, visitors can return to IMMA in Kilmainham to see its permanent collection, a new display in the Lucian Freud Project and the ‘Northern Light’ photography exhibition.

The public also has a final chance to see over 80 works from the figurative artist Paula Rego.

To visit IMMA, you need to choose a timeslot and get your ticket. If you get there early, you can always wander around outside. IMMA has a variety of works and events in the grounds. Book a slot here.

Opening May 12th:

Christ Church Cathedral

The 1,000 year old Viking cathedral isn’t running guided tours right now. But visitors can visit Christ Church’s attractions, which include religious relics, Ireland’s first Magna Carta and Strongbow’s tomb.

To visit, you’ll have to book a ticket and choose a time. Buy one here.

Opening May 14th:

Museum of Literature Ireland

MoLI is doing its best to create a laid back atmosphere, so visitor numbers are limited and booking in advance is advised.

Its exhibition looks at storytelling across the centuries and James Joyce’s Dublin. There’s some rare reads from the National Library on display too.

You can also grab a cuppa in the café and take a walk around the museum’s tranquil gardens. Stephens’ Green and the Iveagh Gardens are just a stone’s throw away too. Buy a ticket here.

Opening May 19th:

GPO Witness History

On O’Connell Street, visitors can try the GPO Museum’s immersive and interactive self-guided tour. It tells the story of the 1916 Easter Rising and the events that have taken place since.

Children under 5 go free and the museum asks that you book a time slot in advance. You can do that here.

Opening May 20th:

Pallas Projects

In the Coombe, Pallas Projects will be reopening with an exhibition of new work by visual artist John Conway. It will last three weeks and is part of its artist-initiated programme.

His work will respond to the building of the Central Mental Hospital in Portrane and its impact on the existing area.

Opening May 22nd:

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

In Newmarket Square, Teeling’s fully operational distillery will be reopening to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays. It then plans to make a full return in June.

Book a ticket here.

Opening May 28th:

Leprechaun Museum

The National Leprechaun Museum, which dedicates itself to sharing the history of Irish mythology and legends, will open its doors once again at the end of May. You can book a ticket here.

What about attractions outside of Dublin?

Beyond the capital, many outdoor attractions have remained open. There’s the Irish National Studs and Gardens, Carlingford Castle and Powerscourt Estate – to name a few. But more museums and attractions will be opening up this May.

Crawford Art Gallery

Opening on May 10th, the Crawford Gallery in Cork will be exhibiting work by the winners of the Zurich Portrait Prize and over sixty works relating to the Irish War of Independence. 

Ongoing exhibitions cover Georgian Ireland and Harry Clarke, while there’s an exhibition of works that demonstrate the maritime traditions of Cork Harbour too.

The Butter Museum

Reopening on May 10th, the Butter Museum in Shandon will continue to tell the story of one of Ireland’s favourite foodstuffs – from the role of dairy in ancient times right through to modern success of Kerrygold.

The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life

In Mayo, the Country Life Museum will reopen on May 10th. Visitors can see its permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibitions on Polish folk art and Paul Strzelecki – the Polish humanitarian who helped over 200,000 children during the Great Famine. This is the last chance to check it out before it ends in June.

Newgrange and Knowth

From May 10th, visitors will be able to enjoy an outdoor tour of Newgrange and Knowth through the Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre. There isn’t an access to the chamber at Newgrange, but there is still plenty to do with self-guided tours taking nearly two hours.

Pre-booking tickets is essential for this one. You can buy a ticket here.

What’s not reopening?

The doors of Trinity College’s Science Gallery will remain locked. But its window exhibition, ‘IN THESE STRANGE TIMES’, will remain in place for passersby to enjoy. They’ve got an accompanying podcast too.

Both the Irish Whiskey Museum and the National Museum of Natural History – aka Dublin’s Dead Zoo – will remain closed this month because of ongoing refurbishments.

Theatres still haven’t received the go-ahead to allow audiences in. Instead, the Gate Theatre will be creating virtual productions. The Visiting Hour by Frank McGuinness will be available to watch on demand from May 10th. While the Abbey Theatre will continue with its digital backstage tours and online programme of readings, short films and performances.

The Smock Alley Theatre will also be streaming its nostalgic On A House Like A Fire.

You can book a time to visit the EPIC Emigration Museum here. Or spread the word about the reopening of your favourite museums using the hashtag: #IrishMuseums