HUNT MUSEUM – LIMERICK
Arts and Antiquity Collection on the River Shannon
The Hunt Museum in Ireland’s third largest city of Limerick exhibits one of the most impressive private collections of art and antiquities in Europe. The museum is located in the 18th Century former Customs House on Rutland Street along the Shannon River Quay in the center of Limerick, where the collection moved to a permanent home in 1997 from a temporary home at Limerick University . The Hunt Museum collection houses more than 2,000 artifacts and art objects from the neo-lithic stone age of Ireland, medieval Celtic periods, the age of Eqyptian Pharos, to masterworks by Leonardo da Vinci and Renoir. The collection didn’t start out as a museum, but assembled over years of collection by John and Martha Hunt. John Hunt was not Irish, born in London in 1900 where he studied medicine and architecture before opening an antique store in Bury Street. Gertrude was German from Mannheim and they met in London in the 1930s. As advisors to other collectors like William Randolph Hearst, the Aga Khan and to Sotheby’s, the Hunts began to amass more unique items, eventually filling the home in Howth, near Dublin they moved to in the 1950s. John Hunt as a medieval expert was instrumental in advising in the restoration of Bunratty Castle, near Limerick (see Bunratty Castle and Folk Park).
The Customs House home of the Hunt Museum is a beautiful piece of artful architecture in itself, built in 1765 with an elegant Palladian façade designed by Italian archiutect Davis Ducart. The building originally housed the Customs and Excise offices for the 18th port quays of Limerick and the Potato Market (now a parking lot and swap meet mall). In the 1840s a Penny Post Office was added in the building as part of the Irish postal system. The customs collectors remained until 1993 when the building was completely restored to house the Hunt Collection after it was donated to the “People of Ireland” by the Hunt Family. Significant items on display in the three floors of exhibits include the 9th century medieval Celtic bronze and enamel Antrim Cross, a sculpture by Da Vinci of a rearing horse used as a scale model for a larger bronze, the Cashel Bell (see Rock of Cashel), cross of Mary Queen of Scots and the royal seal of Charles I, a large collection religious art and relics, arms and armor, jewelery, and decorative pottery and sculpture.
Visiting the Hunt Museum
A visit to the Hunt Museum can be combined with King John’s Castle in Limerick (see King John’s Castle) and the medieval cathedral of St Mary's a short stroll away. The quays along the river bank offer outdoor restaurants and bars and fill with local and Irish tourists on sunny weekends. The museum has its own Ducart’s Restaurant which looks out on the Shannon River. The Hunt Museum is open all year. Opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sundays 2pm to 5pm. You can visit the museum for free on Sundays (see Free Things to Do In Ireland) otherwise admission is €8 for adults, €6.25 for seniors and students and V4.25 for children. A Family ticket is available for €18 and a Hunt Museum Treasure Trail helps kids discover the museum’s journey through history. © Bargain Travel Europe
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