Have You Been to the Dead Zoo? Review of the Natural History Museum, Dublin

BY: Claire Kane |

Have You Been to the Dead Zoo? Review of the Natural History Museum, Dublin

No Dublin childhood is complete without a trip to the Natural History Museum Dublin at some point. If you're a Dublin adult reading this and you haven’t visited, shame on your school/parents, you must address this yourself in due time.

While Dublin Zoo may be more lively, Dublin’s Natural History Museum, known locally as “the Dead Zoo” makes for an interesting and enjoyable day out for kids and adults alike.  

The beautiful building, historical in itself, was built in 1856 as an extension to Leinster house where the Royal Dublin Society was based at the time. It was originally built to house the growing collection of natural history displays owned by the RDS.

The Natural History Museum will appeal to anyone who has a curiosity for natural wonders of the world - you will find yourself mesmerised by the enormous whale skeleton that is suspended above the room. It truly is amazing to behold as you walk in and observe the frame of what was once a magnificent beast hanging above your head.

The museum is not quite what it used to be with several of the exhibitions closed due to safety issues and lack of funding to fix them. However “Mammals of the World” and “Irish Animals” are two large exhibitions that make the visit worthwhile. The Mammals of the World houses pretty much everything you could imagine - giraffes, giant cats, monkeys (some of which are totally bizarre looking) and so on, but what is really intriguing about this portion of the museum is the collection of rodents. Who would have thought that such pestering beings could be so fascinating? Be prepared to marvel at the astounding anatomical structure of the common hamster - truly fascinating.

The Irish animals section is especially intriguing for Irish visitors as they get to marvel at the quite terrifying animals that once roamed our forests such as bears and wolves. Although it’s natural to be thankful you can go hiking without worrying about a bear jumping out on you, it’s also quite sad to realise that our land was once heavily populated by beautiful animals that are practically mythical to us now.

It’s quite a shame that the galleries of the museum aren’t open to the public anymore but that doesn’t take away from the intrigue of the exhibitions and collections we can view. Hopefully in time the museum will be in a position to reopen these exhibitions.

This may not be the most exhilarating thing to do in Dublin but it certainly is interesting, and out of the often present rain, which can be just as important - let’s be honest.  Once you’re finished being bewildered by everything the museum has to offer, you are but a few feet away from any number of activities and places to visit given the central location.

Admission to the museum is free and you can find all details of opening hours and guide tours on

Natural History Museum Dublin, Merrion Street, Dublin 2

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