The Chester Beatty Library holds a few textile artefact's, such as Chinese textile robes and Buddhist painted scrolls and banners. Mostly it is a library, a collection of manuscripts and books said to be the finest made by a private collector in the 20th century. You may not be into books, or the history of books, but if you like to be inspired by design, by the skill, beauty and devotion these anonymous craftsmen put into their work, look no further than this Library. It is not a gallery, or a museum, but a library. Quiet, unassuming, and full of wonder, it definately deserves to be put on our Places to Visit list.
They also host temporary exhibitions, run workshops and events, to foster better understanding of our European, Middle Eastern, Asian and East Asian collections. Oh, and it has an interesting bookshop which usually has some textile reference books and a cafe. Always helps to sit down and have a coffee when you are left in awe, this collection is at times awe inspiring.
Here is a very brief history of the Chester Beatty Library.
Alfred Chester Beatty was born in New York in 1875, the youngest of three sons, he graduated as a mining engineer and started, literally, at rock bottom, shovelling in mines in Denver, Colorado. He soon built up a reputation as a mining engineer, and the rest is a path to riches and success.
As a child he started collecting things such as minerals, stamps, snuff boxes. As he travelled around the world with his mining consultancy, he started to collect manuscripts and books. He moved to Ireland after being knighted in the war, and became Ireland's first Honorary Citizen, building a library on Shrewsbury Road. After his death, the priceless collection was bequeathed to a trust, for the benefit of the public. It is now housed in the Clock Tower building in Dublin Castle.
The first floor houses the Arts of the Book, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, to medieval European and Asian masters, to 20th Century publications with illustrations by the likes of Picasso.
The second floor houses The Sacred Traditions Gallery. Sacred texts, illuminated manuscripts and miniature paintings from the great religions and systems of belief represented in the collections - Christianity, Islam and Buddhism with smaller displays on Confucianism, Daoism, Sikhism and Jainism.
It includes representative samples of the world’s heritage (artistic, religious and secular) from about 2700 BC to the present century.
If you are in Dublin, and have a spare hour (or several!), don't miss the chance to view this amazing collection.
Chester Beatty Library
T: (+353 1) 407 0750