Established in 1877 by the Science and Art Museums Act, the National Museum is deservedly one of Dublin's most popular attractions. The 19th-century building designed by Thomas Newenham Deane is squeezed into a site to the side of the impassive façade of Leinster House. Its domed entrance hall, or Rotunda, looks like a Victorian reworking of the Pantheon, with windows on the upper gallery that jut inwards so that the space appears to cave in towards the spectator.
The most striking exhibition among its many excellent pieces is Ór, a collection of Bronze Age Irish gold displayed in vast glass cases on the ground floor. Further along there are a number of examples of extraordinarily intricate sacred and secular metalwork dating from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages, as well as displays of well-preserved artefacts from prehistoric and Viking Ireland, plus Ancient Egyptian artefacts on the first floor.