From 1731: The Royal Dublin Society

Read how the collections of the Royal Dublin Society became the forerunner of today's Museum and what objects the Out of Storage exhibition displays from that era.

Established as the Dublin Society (1731) to encourage husbandry, manufactures and other useful arts, it was to that aim that modern agricultural and industrial machinery was initially collected.

Their schools of Ornament and Architectural Drawing, established from 1756, collected samples of classical archaeology and plaster casts, which were then used in classes on these subjects.

The first Natural History Museum

In the late 18th century the society purchased, with government funding, the internationally important Leskean collection of fossils and minerals. They built on this nucleus through the employment of a geologist who collected local minerals, all of which were transferred to the society’s Natural History Museum when it was opened in 1857.

Otherwise the society collected material of interest to its members, which ranged from ‘a beautiful piece of writing performed by a person without hands’ to classical archaeological objects and Indian arms.

What artefacts you can see from this period at Out of Storage

By degrees from 1883, the Royal Dublin Society transferred its collection to the new Dublin Museum. Amongst the first items transferred was a Greek vase, which is on display in the Out of Storage gallery. This item was bequeathed to the society in 1825 by George La Touche. Also on display are two specimens from the Leskean collection.