Featuring a programme of nationally important exhibitions, permanent displays of the museum’s diverse collections and innovative work by contemporary artists, film makers and young people from the area. The South Museum & Loom Room feature stories of the local and social history of the area - what job did your grandparents do? How were prisoners dressed 200 years ago? The North Museum contains objects from our natural history sciences and archaeology collections. You’ll find favourites such as Brian the Lion, Samantha the dinosaur and the whale jawbone, plus fascinating objects like our 400 million year old scorpion fossil. There's also Bookbug sessions for youngsters, meet the author events, literary festivals and much more!
Opened in 1901, the Dick Institute is a 4 star attraction and one of the most impressive cultural venues in the south-west of Scotland. It has been described as Scotland’s finest municipal gallery, featuring the largest exhibition spaces in Scotland south of Glasgow with a carefully selected programme of displays to rival any of our city counterparts.
The newly refurbished building now boasts a tearoom serving barista coffee and homemade baking, making the Dick Institute a must visit destination in Ayrshire.
The Main Gallery plays host to world class touring exhibitions through our partnerships with national institutions such as TATE, the Design Museum, National Galleries Scotland, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Seven Stories in bringing household name exhibitions including Quentin Blake, Gerhard Richter, Michael Morpurgo, Bricktropolis (Lego), Miffy and Wallace and Gromit. The Dick Institute also proudly exhibits an ambitious range of temporary exhibitions hosting large scale shows and new commissions from Scotland’s leading contemporary visual artists including Christine Borland, Nathan Coley, Kenny Hunter, Rachel Maclean and Graham Fagen as well as works by applied artists Simon Ward and Timorous Beasties.
Our museum galleries show a range of semi-permanent exhibitions which highlight East Ayrshire’s social and natural science heritage through our varied collections. One of the most visited items on display is the replica of John Wilson’s printing press which printed the first book of Robert Burns’ poems – Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect – more famously known as The Kilmarnock Edition. Must see items include original Burns manuscripts which are on rotation and include, Tam O’Shanter, The Twa Dogs and The Cottar’s Saturday Night.
Dean Castle, another of Kilmarnock's flagship attractions is currently undergoing major repair and refurbishment works which are due for completion in 2021. As a result, the Castle’s fabulous and nationally recognised collections of early musical instruments, tapestries and more have been moved to the Dick Institute for safe keeping and are on display in the North Museum.