The campaign to establish a public museum in Dublin can be traced to about 1835. At that time the new Mechanics Institutes of Cork, Belfast and Dublin campaigned for the provision of a museum where their students could draw patterns or objects in a manner similar to their counterparts in London and Antwerp.
New Irish Schools of Design
That demand increased when schools of design were opened in Limerick (1842), Cork and Dublin (1849). Their demand was for a public museum similar to the British Museum, where the manufacturing artists could study "vases, casts, bronzes and works of decorative architecture".
At the same time the public made government increasingly aware that the private museums that they supported in Dublin were rarely open to the public, students or mechanics.
The Dublin Science and Art Museum Act
Subsequently the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act (1877) established a new public museum that would develop its own collection and incorporate those of earlier institutions such as the Royal Dublin Society, which was compensated financially for its property and collections. Key members of its staff also became Museum officials.