The Chester Beatty Library is one of Dublin’s most interesting places to visit and the only museum in Ireland to be awarded European Museum of the Year (2002). The exquisite collections of prints, manuscripts, paintings and early printed books from Western Europe, through Egypt, the Middle East to China are exceptional. They offer an insight in the rich history of great cultures and religions over the past three millennia.
Alfred Chester Beatty was born on 7th February 1875 in New York City. He graduated as an engineer from Columbia University in 1898 and went west to work in the mining business in Denver. Two years later he moved to Cripple Creek, Colorado and made a fortune mining gold. He was a millionaire in his early thirties, and for health reasons moved to London and established a successful consultancy firm and was often called ‘The King of Copper’. An avid collector since he was a boy he travelled widely buying and amassing the fabulous collection that is now housed in the renovated Clock Tower Building in Dublin Castle. The museum opened on the 7th February 2000, the 125th anniversary of Beatty’s birth. He moved to Dublin in 1940 and was made a Freeman of the City in 1954, and granted Honorary Irish Citizenship in 1957. And he was accorded a state funeral when he died on 19th January 1968 – a very unique honour indeed for a private citizen.
The short video about Chester Beatty just inside the Library’s entrance is informative and well worth a view. In the bright Atrium you will find the Library gift shop and, with so much on show coming from the East, the busy Silk Road Café. And the Roof Garden is not to be missed.
It’s a great place for all ages, and the word that most comes to mind when I think about my visit is – colourful. Check it out.