A new exhibition was previewed as part of a celebration of the 260th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns at the Robert Burns Centre in Dumfries on Sunday 27 January 2019.
The afternoon began with outstanding performances of Burns poems and songs by Molly and Ella McTeir, Rowan Hastie and Troy Barbour from Sanquhar Primary School and Sanquhar Academy. The capacity audience included many of those who had helped with the refurbishment project as well as representatives from all the local Burns Clubs.
Next Professor Fred Freeman from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland revealed the extent to which the town of Dumfries and the region as a whole influenced Robert Burns’ work. This was followed by a light hearted look at late 18th century etiquette from Chris and Jackie Lee of Artemis Scotland. This part of the afternoon concluded with a talk by Professor Gerard Carruthers from the University of Glasgow and Chair of the Burns Scotland partnership, which described current academic research and what it is revealing about Burns’ life and work.
Afterwards visitors were able to explore the new gallery. The refurbishment of the gallery was funded through a grant of £58,500 from Museums Galleries Scotland. Along with other Robert Burns collections cared for by the museums in the Burns Scotland partnership. The artefacts on exhibition at the Robert Burns Centre have been ‘Recognised as being of National Significance’ by the Scottish Government, meaning that the partnership was able to apply for this funding. The project will also see a programme of loans from Burns Scotland partners coming to the Robert Burns Centre, the first of which will be a portrait of Jessie Lewars from East Ayrshire Leisure. Jessie Lewars nursed Robert Burns during his final days and the loan is scheduled for this summer to coincide with the anniversary of his death on 21 July 1796.
Councillor Andy Ferguson, Chair of the Council’s Communities Committee, said;
“At this time of year we see people all over the world celebrate his memory with Burns Suppers, but this is not his only his legacy. His poems and songs still have relevance to us today and our region is fortunate to have so many locations associated with the poet that are open to the public, including Ellisland Farm, the Theatre Royal, The Globe Inn, Robert Burns House, Brow Well and Burns Mausoleum in St Michael’s Churchyard.”
Councillor John Martin, Vice-Chair of Communities Committee said;
“The new exhibition has something for everyone, from manuscript poems in the poets own hand to puzzles and games to entertain families with young children. I am delighted to see so much interest in the life and work of Robert Burns and I am sure this new exhibition will be greatly enjoyed by the thousands of visitors who come to our region every year to discover more about the poet.”
The Robert Burns Centre is open 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday and admission is FREE.