Robert Burns Birthplace Museum accessibility guide

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum has been deliberately designed to be easy to get around.

This access statement does not contain personal opinions as to suitability for those with access needs, but aims to accurately describe the facilities and services that we offer all our visitors.

Welcome

Contact for accessibility enquiries:
Tel: 01292 443700
Email: burns@nts.org.uk

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum is based in Alloway, South Ayrshire and is the ideal place to explore both the man and his work.
We welcome all visitors to our museum, and this guide lists the range of provisions we have made to ensure that every visitor has a wonderful time when they visit us.

Our flagship museum encompasses sites across the village of Alloway, including:

  • the museum building which houses the collection, the shop and the café, as well as the Scots Wa-Hey Burns-themed play area outside
  • the Cottage and the smallholding where Robert Burns was born
  • Alloway Auld Kirk (made famous by Burns’s poem Tam o’ Shanter, where Tam saw the witches dancing!)
  • the Brig o’ Doon (also famous from Tam o’ Shanter, where Tam’s horse Meg loses her tail)
  • Burns Monument and Monument gardens
  • Poet’s Walkway – a path that connects the museum and Burns Cottage, and includes Burns-related sculptures

You will be given a copy of a map when you visit the museum.

Accessible opening times

We are currently running accessible opening hours across the site, between 3–5pm on the first Tuesday of every month. Cleaning lights will be turned on and audio-visual elements of the museum switched off. While we cannot necessarily guarantee that this will be a quiet time from a visitor point of view, visitors who find the usual lighting and audio levels of the museum challenging may wish to visit during these hours.

At a glance

There is level access from the main entrance to:

  • Burns Cottage and the Museum
  • Poet’s Path
  • Ticket/information desk
  • Accessible toilet
  • Shop
  • Café

The Burns Monument Gardens can be accessed by wheelchair users.

Getting here

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
Murdoch’s Lone
Alloway
Ayrshire
KA7 4PQ

Parking

  • There are car parks at both the Museum and the Cottage which are free for our visitors to use and have disabled parking spaces.
  • We have an electric car charging point in the museum car park, for which donations are gratefully received.
  • We have four bike racks outside the museum and cyclists are welcome to use our café.

Toilets

  • Both the Education Pavilion at Burns Cottage and the foyer area at the museum have disabled toilets.
  • There are baby changing facilities at the museum, but not at Burns Cottage.


Arrival

Wheelchairs are available at both Burns Cottage and the museum on request and guide dogs are welcome across the site. Essential carers can enter free of charge.

Museum

  • The main entrance area has a revolving door, with wheelchair access to the left-hand side.
  • As you go through the door, you will enter the shop.
  • If you wish to visit our café, it is directly in front of you through the glass doors.
  • Our toilets, including a disabled toilet, are on the left-hand side as you are walking towards the café.
  • The Admissions Desk is to your right and our staff will be on hand to help you with buying your tickets and finding out more information.
  • The exhibition and education areas at the museum are fitted with a hearing loop.
  • The museum is accessible through a door to the right of the admissions desk.
  • Our staff will be able to tell you about all the different things you can do at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and any special activities happening that day.

Cottage

  • Burns Cottage is accessible via a kiosk at the threshold of the car park.
  • Tickets can be purchased from the kiosk, and staff will be on hand to give you more information. If you have already purchased a ticket at the museum, please show this to the member of staff in the kiosk.

Getting around inside

  • Burns Cottage consists of 4 rooms and is all on one level.
  • Due to its historic nature, Burns Cottage has narrow doors, although these are suitable for most wheelchairs. One room has a cobbled floor which makes navigation difficult. You may find it easier to enter through the kitchen door on the right-hand side as you look at the cottage (marked Exit Only) if you think the cobbles might be difficult.
  • The museum, shop and café are all on one level.
  • All our talks, lectures and events take place on the ground floor and are therefore accessible for wheelchair- and buggy-users.

Getting around outside

  • From the main entrance of the museum to Poet’s Path and Burns Cottage, there is level access.
  • Burns Cottage is a brisk 10-minute walk or 2-minute drive from the museum building.
  • The Monument Garden paths are sloped, and some have gravel surfaces.
  • The Brig o’ Doon is situated at the bottom of a fairly steep road with narrow pavements and is cobbled.
  • Alloway Auld Kirk is accessible only by steps but can be viewed from the roadside.
  • Please note that a busy road runs between the sites. You will need to cross the road at both Alloway Auld Kirk and Burns Cottage. There are traffic islands at both sites to assist your crossing.

Things to see and do

Museum

  • The museum comprises the largest collection of Burns objects in the world, including original manuscripts, items that belonged to Burns and his family and friends, and objects associated with the Bard since his death.
  • We have many interactive activities in the museum for visitors of all ages to enjoy. The interactive screens and games produce a noise; if these are played at the same time, they can be heard around the museum. This can mean different sounds can be heard at the same time. A Burns song or poem is played every hour from overhead screens – at this point the museum lights dim down. You can check with staff at the front desk who will be able to let you know what times this will happen.
  • The museum is divided into different themes relating to the life of Robert Burns.
  • We have large print versions of the labels in the museum. Please ask at the admissions desk and our staff will be happy to help.
  • Our museum houses the most significant collection of Burns objects in the world. Many of these are old manuscripts or letters and are extremely sensitive to light. If they are exposed to too much light, they will fade, and visitors will no longer be able to enjoy them. For this reason, the museum lighting needs to be kept low. We appreciate that this will be difficult for some of our visitors but hope you understand that it is necessary to conserve these precious objects for future generations.
  • As our museum is all one room, there are no areas which are quieter or noisier than others.
  • There is soft seating around the sides of the museum. Portable folding stools can be borrowed inside the museum, to sit on while viewing the exhibits.
  • Our museum is extremely popular with visitors from all over the world and we regularly have coach trips and school groups visit us. At these times, the museum and café/shop do get busy and may be quite noisy, especially around lunchtime.

Museum gardens and Scots Wa-Hey play area

  • Our Burns-themed play area, Scots Wa-Hey, is perfect for young visitors and is full of fun features. It includes a mini Burns Cottage, Tam o’ Shanter zip wire, Witches’ Cauldron roundabout (wheelchair accessible), Auld Kirk climbing wall, sand pit with accessible raised sand pit and Scots language features throughout.
  • It is adjacent to the café, has ample seating and is sited in mature secure gardens with a level perimeter path network.

Burns Cottage and smallholding

The smallholding has been developed from an idea of William Burnes (Robert’s father), who hoped to develop this area into a market garden. He called the site ‘New Gardens’ but never quite managed to realise his plan. We decided to take the seed of his idea and develop an attractive green space complete with an orchard, vegetable plots including raised accessible beds, a path network and a wildlife-friendly pond.

  • The paths are level and wheelchair accessible, but the woodland walk is a barked path and can become soft underfoot.

Shop

We have a large shop at the museum which sells a range of different items to suit all requirements.

We have Burns-related products including books about his life and works, as well as products made by local crafters and a selection of Scottish-themed goods. We have plenty of children’s items available too.

Café

  • We have a café at the museum. We offer a wide range of different options including soup, sandwiches, hot meals, a selection of cakes, healthy snacks, salads, and hot and cold drinks.
  • We also offer gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.
  • There are no catering facilities at Burns Cottage.
  • Our café (and indeed our entire site) is breastfeeding- and family-friendly.
  • Our café is often busy during the middle part of the day.
  • We have highchairs available for small children.
  • If the weather is fine, you can bring a picnic and make use of our outside benches viewing Burns Cottage. Please note however that it is not possible to consume your own food at the museum.

We run lots of unique events and activities throughout the year so please check our Facebook page for details, as well as the What’s On boards around our site.

We look forward to welcoming you. Our front-of-house team usually wear turquoise shirts and sometimes wear navy National Trust for Scotland fleeces or soft-shell jackets over the top. They will be happy to answer any questions you have on the day.

Your ticket is valid for 3 days from the date of purchase, and you can come and go as often as you please.

If you have any queries or require any assistance in advance, please phone 01292 443700 or email burns@nts.org.uk.

Guide last updated: 3 May 2022