East Ayrshire Council cares for many thousands of objects across 4 main sites and a number of smaller venues throughout the area.
These collections cover subjects as varied as Fine and Decorative Art to Zoology, Local and Social History to Archives, and pretty much everything in-between. Collected over a period of over 150 years by a variety of individuals, groups and earlier museums, East Ayrshire’s collections are often regarded as unusual in their quality and range, with a number of objects have been loaned for exhibition to other museums across the UK and Europe. The collections also continue to be developed and expanded upon, and new items are acquired every year.
Many items are of international importance - the collections of early musical instruments and arms and armour held at Dean Castle, elements of the Fine Art collection at the Dick Institute, or original manuscripts written by Robert Burns displayed at the Burns House Museum. Some objects are firm family favourites, like ‘Brian’ the half-lion, or the whale’s jaw-bones that can be found at the Dick Institute.
Parts of the collections represent some of the best examples of their type, for example Ayrshire Needlework, Mauchlineware, and Cumnock Pottery (much of which is displayed at The Baird Institute). Other, more common-place items illustrate the daily lives of ordinary people over many centuries – their work, their clothes, and their leisure time – but are nonetheless valuable for what they tell us about our own histories.
Whilst it is impossible to display all of these items at any one time, those not on public view are held in store, and are preserved, documented and researched by a dedicated Collection Care team. However these objects are still accessible, either by appointment, special exhibitions, or through Future Museum.
Future Museum is a partnership project between East Ayrshire Council, Dumfries and Galloway Council, North Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council and the independent museums of the south-west of Scotland whose main focus is to provide free access to the museum collections via the future museum website.