Cork Public Museum is housed in a two storey Georgian house commanding a central position in Fitzgerald Park, Cork. Originally built in 1845 by the Beamish family, the building, then known as "The Shrubberies was their family home for decades. The property and surrounding land was eventually purchased by Cork Corporation for the purpose of housing the Cork International Exhibition of 1902 and 1903. The site of the exhibition was opened as Public Park in 1906.
A site of some 18 acres of landscaped gardens; the park is a magnificent setting for the museum. Flanked by U.C.C. on one side and the riverside gardens of Sunday's Well on the other, the park bestows a sense of history that complements the ambience of the museum perfectly. The Riverview Café, recently opened in the museum's extension, fully exploits the commanding views of the river Lee and provides the visitor with a tranquil haven to enjoy a coffee and a snack.
The museum was originally opened in 1910 under the curatorship of J.P. Dalton. After the burning of Cork in 1920, the building temporarily held the Municipal Offices. The building also served as the Air Raid Protection office during the Emergency. Cork Public Museum finally re-opened in 1945 with M.J. O'Kelly; Professor of Archaeology in U.C.C. as Curator and it was he that began the tireless work of collecting, cataloguing and exhibiting material that successive Curators continued.