Those who think that composing a Scotch song is a trifling business, let them try.’ [Letter from Robert Burns to James Hoy, 6 November 1787]

This place is an experience for all the senses: listen to Burns’s words, play games that unravel his mysteries and enjoy visual artworks.

Begin by watching the short welcome video and then wander through the sliding doors to immerse yourself in Burns’s world.

Main exhibition

This is a self-guided space where you’re free to explore the work, life and legacy of Burns, with interactive games and quizzes for all ages.

Play some tunes on the Burns jukebox, learn what he thought about the hot political issues of the day and leave a note on the trysting tree.

See how we’ve constructed a faithful picture of his facial features – you can also do some forensic foraging into how Burns died, and get your own shadow portrait made on site.

Books and manuscripts

Of course, the exhibition also displays many of Burns’s most iconic works, in both book and manuscript form, complemented by an array of audio and visual aids, to help interpret them.

Among some of our greatest treasures are the Kilmarnock Edition of his first published collection, Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect; the annotated Scots Musical Museum; and William Burnes’s Bible which records the date of Burns’s birth.

Every hour, the museum bursts into life with an audio-visual extravaganza of his poems and songs.


The exhibition is dotted with iconic artworks, including portraits by Alexander Nasmyth and Archibald Skirving, alongside paintings of Mauchline Holy Fair and David Roberts’ pastoral view of the Burns Monument and Brig o’ Doon.

Collectors’ items and Burnsiana

There are many fascinating personal items and souvenirs on display here. See if you can spot Burns’s portable writing kit, the cast of his skull, a pair of pistols he used in his work as an excise man – and even a lock of the poet’s hair.


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 and Auld Kirk climbing wall, and makes a feature of the Scots language.