Ellisland Farm Becomes Accredited Museum

A Farm in Dumfries and Galloway where poet Robert Burns wrote Auld Lang Syne has been awarded accredited museum status after an intensive three-year drive to improve the care of its collection.


The good news came through as the Ellisland team held a family fun day which attracted almost 200 people to the heritage site on the banks of the Nith near Dumfries.


The community event raised more than £300 for the charity and attracted many local families visiting the historic site for the first time. They were entertained with traditional music by youth group Spectrum.


A-listed Ellisland, on the banks of the River Nith near Dumfries, is considered Burns’ most authentic home and safeguards artefacts such as the poet’s fishing rod, flute, school books and manuscripts, including The Whistle and Wounded Hare.


Accreditation is only awarded after a rigorous improvement and inspection procedure. The Robert Burns Ellisland Trust, the charity that runs the site, invested significant resources to enhance the care of the collection, documentation systems and security procedures.


The Ellisland team heard the good news last week in a letter from Museum Galleries Scotland, the national development body that administers the scheme on behalf of Arts Council England. Robert Burns Ellisland Museum and Farm is the only Scottish museum to achieve first time accreditation in this round of evaluation.


Accredited Museum Status means Ellisland, which was built by Burns himself, will be eligible for a wider range of grant funding. It represents another step forward for the trust which was formed in 2020 to assume control of the site and immediately faced the challenge of Covid and closures.


Support from the Holywood Trust and Museums Galleries Scotland allowed Ellisland to employ staff to work on the accreditation submission.


Caitlin MacLeod the Museum Education and Development Lead who guided the museum through the process said:


‘This is a huge achievement for the team at Ellisland including staff, trustees and volunteers. Being awarded museum status is the culmination of 3 years of hard work. We are very grateful to the funders whose support helped us achieve this.’
“We received a site visit from a Museum Galleries Scotland representative back in May and the final decision was made by a panel meeting in London in July. It’s been a nerve wracking few months while we waited for the final decision.
“Accreditation means Ellisland will continue to play an important part in both local and national heritage in the future. The recognition comes with lots of advice on how to keep improving, so the hard work will continue.”

Museum Accreditation is the most recent success for the trust. Auld Lang Syne Cottage, a refurbished property opened as a holiday let on the farm this month and a masterplan to turn the site into an international cultural hub and visitor attraction gained widespread support.