About The Hunt Museum
The Hunt Museum preserves and exhibits the original artefacts gathered, over a life time, by John and Gertrude Hunt and known as the Hunt Collection. The Museum also displays its own collections, as well as visiting exhibitions of Local, National and International significance with the overall aim of maximising their cultural and educational potential for the people of Limerick and Ireland.
We hope you will be as excited by our new Hunt Museum Strategy 2025 as we are:
We are setting the sights of the Hunt Museum even higher. Using the three platforms of a modern museum: our iconic Georgian Building with its unique collections; the digital and virtual world and our networks we have some ambitious goals.
By 2025 we will have:
helped boost pride in the region’s cultural heritage
gained international recognition for our collections
created new technology partnerships
innovated in the sector and for the museum
touched the hearts and minds of local and international audiences
improved people’s well-being and learning
The Hunt Museum was established to house the internationally important collection of approximately 2,000 works of art and antiquities formed by John and Gertrude Hunt during their lifetimes. As antique dealers and advisors to collectors they built a thriving business and also began to acquire pieces that reflected their own interests and curiosity rather than for commercial purposes.
During the latter stages of John’s life, they became increasingly aware of the scale of their collection and wished for it to remain intact. Fortunately, The National Institute of Higher Education, later to become the University of Limerick, agreed to house part of the collection on a temporary basis. The Hunt Museum opened there, in 1978, in an exhibition room with the display designed by architect Arthur Gibney.
During this period the Irish Government had declined the offer of the Collection, so finding a suitable home and owner to take responsibility for the artefacts became more urgent. The Hunt Museum Trust was established in 1974 to hold the Collection and the property at Craggaunowen, a 16th-century Irish tower house that the Hunts had restored, in trust on behalf of the people of Ireland.
The Trust established The Hunt Museum Ltd. whose sole purpose was the establishment of a permanent home for the Museum. Under the chairmanship of Dr Tony Ryan, this company provided the necessary energy to create the Museum as we see it today. A public/private partnership involving the University of Limerick, Shannon Development, Limerick Corporation and the Department of Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, linked with local business interests, secured the historic 18th-century former Customs House in Limerick city. They also secured the funds to restore and renovate the building to international museum standards.
The Museum was officially opened by An Taoiseach, John Bruton, on 14 February 1997. It was a moment of great celebration for all concerned however, unfortunately, neither John nor Gertrude Hunt had lived to realise their dream. The Museum stands as a monument to their enthusiasm, curiosity and generosity.
Regarded as the most distinguished 18th century building in Limerick, the Customs House is an elegant Palladian-style building designed by the Italian architect, Davis Ducart, in 1765. It was the administrative centre for the Revenue Commissioners (including Customs and Excise) in Limerick and it was also the home of the Collector. In the 1840s with the introduction of a new postal system a Penny Post Office was opened in the Customs House.
The Office of Public Works undertook the major restoration and refurbishment of the building completing it in 1996 and so realised the dream of John and Gertrude Hunt to have their collection housed in Limerick. The Customs House opened as The Hunt Museum on 14 February.
“This is a beautiful museum, not a far walk from King John’s Castle. The Hunt exhibits one of Ireland’s greatest private collections of art and antiquities dating from the Neolithic period to the 20th century. It’s open from 10-5 daily but pay attention to closing around the holidays. Sculptures in the garden are great as well.”Visited December 2016
“I almost walked by the museum. The museum is very cool. Loved the gift shop attached to the museum. I spent hours there. Family loved it also.”
Visited April 2016
“Such a beautiful building with gorgeous artwork. Friendly and welcoming staff with a height of knowledge of all the artwork”
“This little museum is awesome. They have a very nice collection of local art. Not to be missed if you visit Limerick.”
Visited January 2017