The Treasures Chest

Welcome to the RDS Library & Archives’ Exhibition of the RDS Treasures Collection.

The original RDS library, museum and art collections numbering approximately 100,000 objects were formed as a part of the Dublin Society’s mission to further the development of agriculture, industry and manufacture, and the arts and sciences in Ireland. These collections were assembled through donations, bequests, purchases and commissions, and they served as a resource for academic research and public enlightenment from the mid-18th century onwards. 

In 1877, the Society’s core collections of geological, zoological and ethnographical material, as well as antiquities, works of art and the RDS Library collections, were transferred to the State. There they helped to form the basis of the collections at new national institutions including the National Museum, the Botanic Gardens, the National Library, the National Gallery and the National College of Art and Design. 

Our present Collection of over 700 objects is made up of paintings, sculptures, works on paper, trophies and scientific instruments which have a connection to the RDS; some reflect the interests and activities of the Society since its establishment in 1731, others represent the Society’s patrons, professors and presidents. With works by notable Irish artists as well as international makers, our unique Collection is of socio-cultural and art historical significance and is of interest to scholars and art enthusiasts at home and abroad.

The Digital Exhibiton of the RDS Treasures Collection is permanent, and from time-to-time we'll add more artworks and objects from our Collection, so do come back and browse! If you would like to find out more about any of the works in the exhibition - or in our Collection - you can contact us at

Enjoy the show!


The Treasures Chest: Introduction