Museum opened in 1991 in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (a district at the west end of the city). The Hospital, built in 1680–87 to house disabled and veteran soldiers, is the largest and most impressive secular building of its period in Ireland and stands on a commanding site, looking over the River Liffey opposite Phoenix Park. It consists of four ranges around a central courtyard. In 1949 the building was vacated as unsafe (at this time it was serving as the headquarters of the Civic Guard) and it was many years in restoration and conversion to a museum. When it opened it had no permanent collection, but one has quickly been built up by purchase and gift. It also holds loan exhibitions.