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9 May 2024

Why we love Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Why we love Robert Burns Birthplace Museum


Three speakers: Chris Waddell (Learning Manager); Ali Scott (Visitor Services Assistant); Luke Sargent (Head Gardener)

I'm Chris Waddell. I'm the Learning Manager here at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway,
and I work for the National Trust for Scotland.
Robert Burns Birthplace is where Robert Burns, Scotland's national Bard, was born.
He was born here in 1759 and we have the birthplace cottage.
It really is the centrepiece, the most important part of the site. It's where the most famous Scot who ever lived was born, but we have so much more here.
There's the famous Brig o' Doon and Alloway Auld Kirk, both of which feature prominently in Burns's most famous piece: his great narrative epic Tam o' Shanter.
There's the Burns Monument, which is 201 years old, and of course behind me we have our exhibition and museum building, which has the cafe, the shop and everything you need for a fantastic day out here in Alloway.
Whether you're a Burns fan or whether you're an absolute novice to the world of Burns, it's well worth a visit.
This has got the biggest collection of Burns and Burnsiana in the world. We've got his manuscripts, we have personal effects, we have items of his clothing, we have a pair of his scabby looking old socks, if you want to come and look at them!
That tells you something about the nature of celebrity. If, in 250 years' time, your socks are in a museum, you know you've made it.
That's why he's the most important Scot that's ever lived.

And if looking at old manuscripts and old socks doesn't particularly float your boat, ie if you're a younger member of society, there's lots of great fun things here to do.
We've got our summer programmes; we've got a fantastic learning programme.
But even if you just want a bit of fun, we have our Scots Wha Hae play area just in the attractive gardens to the rear of the museum.

We've recently launched our online search facility, which allows people who access it to look at over 2,500 different items that we've placed online. And we're able to do this thanks to the generosity of our funders, a member of our Patrons' Club and the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA.

My name's Ali Scott and I'm a Visitor Services Assistant here at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, with the National Trust for Scotland.
I've always loved Burns. I've lived in Ayrshire all my life, so you learn him from a very young age.
In primary school we had Burns assemblies, and you all learn a poem. And whoever recites it best in that class, gets to perform it at the Burns assembly.
I came second every single year, and it was the same person that beat me every single year! Then when I got this job and started doing my guided tours and reciting Burns to people from all over the world, my partner said to me, 'well, you can tell Adam, guess what I do now?!'

The cafe is so popular. A lot of people come every day.
I get to see the same faces, get to know them.
I know a lot of our regulars have made friends with the other regulars. It's a nice wee thing for some of them in the morning to sit and chat with each other over their coffees.

I love this place because I get to meet people from all over the world and get to share something that I love with them.
It's such a pleasure to me; it's an absolute dream.

My name's Luke Sargent. I am the Head Gardener here at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.
The most important green space I look after is the Monument Garden here at the museum.
It was built in 1823, so it's just celebrated its 200th anniversary. It was designed by Thomas Hamilton to celebrate Burns and be the centre of Burns Country, that was the inspiration behind his poetry.
We are trying to use the gardens to reflect Burns and his poetry, how we think that he would have wanted us to, so in a very loose and natural manner, slightly on the wild side perhaps, because as a ploughman poet, we think that's what he would have preferred to see as a landscape rather than something that is a very strongly cultivated garden.

I love this place because it feels like ground zero for my favourite nature poet.
Someone who I feel whose contemporaries may have gazed at nature through sitting on a lawn chair,and just looking out over there, over the fields.
Whereas I feel that Robert Burns was really in the weeds when it comes to nature, someone who felt that it was very much his equal.
This is somewhere that I think the people from Ayrshire celebrate that, in that he was a local lad and someone who was very much they could be proud of as a working-class hero almost, but yet still someone who promotes the language of Scotland.

This place is hugely important to me. It's the start of the Burns story.
If you come here and you've never heard of Burns, an entire world of Scots culture gets opened up to you.
He's the guy who saves our language; he's the guy who preserves the Scots language.
It's his writing that keeps it in the public eye and that's why it's important to me.
That's why I love working here and that's why I come here, day in and day out, year after year.
It's a great place.

In this short film, members of our amazing team at RBBM share some of the reasons why they love this very special place.
“It's where the most famous Scot who ever lived was born ... but we have so much more here.”
Chris Waddell
Learning Manager

Precious handwritten manuscripts, 250-year-old socks, a giant mouse ... and delicious scones – there are so many reasons to visit Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.

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