The National Museum of Ireland began a major expansion phase in 1997 with the first project being the refurbishment of Collins Barracks. This 300 year old former army barracks is now the headquarters for administration and central services and the exhibition venue for the collections of Decorative Arts & History.
In 2001, Turlough Park in Castlebar, Co. Mayo was opened as the main site for the Country Life collections, housed in a new building beside the original estate house, part of which has been restored for public access. In 2003, the Riding School, a major temporary exhibition facility, was opened at Collins Barracks. This was followed by the refurbishment of the North Block of Clarke Square, now home to the Museum's military history galleries – Soldiers and Chiefs.
The Natural History Museum in Merrion Street saw minor restoration work in 2010 that brought wheelchair access to ground floor areas and introduced new education spaces. Much capital development has still to be achieved, however, for the Museum to realise its vision of “A world-class institution that promotes the widest understanding of Ireland’s distinctive culture and natural history and its place in the world“. See the sections below for an overview of the developments at the different Museum sites.