There are both permanent and temporary exhibitions in this magnificent gallery. The permanent ones are:
Arts of the Book – Here, visitors can view books from the ancient world including the famous Chester Beatty Love Poems (c.1160 BC), Egyptian Books of the Dead and beautifully illuminated medieval European manuscripts and fine European printed books, as well as Old Master prints.
Sacred Traditions - on the second floor exhibits the 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.
As well as housing paintings that span the 14th to 20th century, the collection also covers most most of the continents. There is a good collection of Irish Paintings and a ‘room’ devoted to the works of all the Yates family. Also in the Irish collection is Hamilton, Barry, Lavery and Orpen Roberts, O'Conor, Hone, Danby, Osborne and Leech.
One of the more ‘celebrated’ paintings in its collection would be Caravaggio: The Taking of Christ (1602). Celebrated, not only because of the artist, but also it’s a most interesting route to the walls of the gallery!
Alfred Beit donated on of the single biggest gifts to the gallery in 1976. The collection includes. Goya, Turner, Hobbema, Velázquez, Vermeer.
Annually there is an exhibition of Turner Watercolours. The 35 watercolours are only on view in January. The benefactor of the paintings, Henry Vaughan, insisted, that in order to preserve tem paints – they should be kept out of sunlight, so January having the lowest level of sun and sunlight ours was the chosen month to exhibit the paintings.