Exhibitions and Events

Our full programme of exhibitions and events can be downloaded from the Dumfries and Galloway Council website.

2014 Exhibitions and Events


Until January 2015

Gold Silver Bronze

Inspired by the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow the 2014 foyer exhibition features three items that have a local symbolic importance – one made from gold, one with silver and one made from bronze. All three objects illustrate the governance of Dumfriesshire and have intriguing stories.
Gold snuff box, George III
The citizens of Dumfries presented this delicate box to John Maitland of Eccles in 1811.
Silver and ebony gavel, 1914
Hugh Gladstone, the councillor for Penpont parish, presented this to the County Council when their new headquarters in English Street, Dumfries, were opened.
Bronze “hangman’s ladle”, 1700s
In addition to receiving a salary and free rent, the town’s executioner was allowed to use this ladle to help himself from each open sack of produce at the town market. The ladle is on loan courtesy of the Trustees of the National Museums Scotland.

Homecoming Scotland 2014

Portrait of Walter Newall

In 2014 the recently acquired and conserved portrait of Walter Newall will be placed on permanent display at the entrance to the windmill tower. When the disused windmill was converted into an observatory in 1836 it was Walter Newall who drew the plans incorporating the “Egyptian” influences fashionable at that time. He was also responsible for a wide range of buildings throughout the region, from grand town houses like Moat Brae in Dumfries to simple farm cottages.

Thursday 10th of April – 7pm

Dumfries Burns Club Spring Lecture

Deborah Stewartby on John Buchan – beyond The Thirty-Nine Steps
Lady Stewartby will give an insight into the life and works of her grandfather, John Buchan. Buchan was the author of more than 100 works of fiction, biography and history. His novel, The Thirty-Nine Steps, is famously set in the wild hill-country of Galloway. It was published in 1915, in the first year of World War One and reflects the suspicion and ‘spy-fever’ of the time. Buchan went on to write wartime propaganda and speeches, becoming Director of Information in 1917.
All welcome. Light refreshments will be served after the lecture when there will be a chance to visit the museum galleries.

Friday 18th April – Sunday 15th June

Curling Connections

Scotland was the cradle of three popular games – curling, golf and football – yet curling remained uniquely Scottish throughout its heyday. From the mid – eighteenth century onwards the game was highly popular in this area, it was a sport in which all levels of society could participate and unusually involved both men and women. Many of the parishes of Dumfries and Galloway had a curling club, and their matches or bonspiels attracted great numbers of participants who would often travel considerable distances in wintry conditions to compete. This exhibition examines the social importance of curling and reveals the unique contribution to the development of the game by the people and players of Dumfries and Galloway.

Tuesday 22nd of April – 7pm to 9pm

Curling Connections Launch Event

The Curling Connections exhibition will be opened officially by Kate Caithness, President of the World Curling Federation. There will be a short talk followed by refreshments and an opportunity to visit the exhibition and museum galleries.

Saturday 17th of May – 10am

Festival of Museums – Meet the Vikings

For just one day a Viking settlement will appear in the gardens of Dumfries Museum. Visitors will meet Viking warriors, craftsmen and women, learn how Vikings dressed for battle, how they lived their daily lives and what games they played. For a small fee, to cover the cost of materials, visitors can make Viking craft items to take home. If the weather is bad the Vikings will invade the museum galleries and the event will take place indoors. This event is being organised by the Dumfries and Galloway branch of the Glasgow Vikings group in partnership with Dumfries Museum and funded by Museums Galleries Scotland. Meet the Vikings is just one of many exciting events taking place as part of Festival of Museums between 16 and 18 May 2014.

Saturday 6th of September – Saturday 29th of November


Replenished with debris twice a day the strandline marks the turning point of the last high tide and
provides endless material for the curious beachcomber. It is here that the sea deposits seaweeds and creatures torn up from below the waves as well as debris washed down from rivers. Find out more about what you might find on the Solway seashore.

Thursday 11th of September – 7pm

Strandlines Launch Event

Nic Coombey, Coastal Ranger with Solway Firth Partnership, will talk about natural and manmade objects found tossed up on the Solway Strandline. Answers will be provided for those difficult questions: What is it? Why is it here? How did it get there? Become a curious beachcomber and discover what the tides reveal. Refreshments will be served.

Previous Exhibitions and Events


2013 Exhibitions

Saturday 9 March – Sunday 2 June

Fabulous Finds – Dumfries and Galloway Archaeology Uncovered

A glittering exhibition of recent archaeological finds from across Dumfries and Galloway. This exhibition celebrates the archaeological discoveries which have found their way into our local museums through the law of Treasure Trove. Under the common law of Scotland, the law of Treasure Trove is based on quod nullius est fit domini regis: “that which belongs to nobody becomes our Lord the King’s [or Queen’s]”. In Scotland all finds, whether made by archaeological excavation, fieldwalking, metal-detecting or by chance are the property of the Crown and are potentially Treasure Trove. For many years these finds were given, as a matter of course, to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Since a change of policy in the early 1990s most Treasure Trove objects are now allocated to appropriate museums in the area local to the find. For museums all across the country Treasure Trove is a valuable tool in preserving and securing the evidence of our past for the future.

Thursday 21 March, 7pm
Fabulous Finds Exhibition talk
Magnus Kirby, CFA Archaeology Ltd: 6000 years of history buried under Lockerbie Academy

In 2006 an archaeological excavation at the site of the new Lockerbie Academy revealed that people had been at the site for at least 6000 years, meeting, trading, feasting, working and carrying out rituals and ceremonies for perhaps as many as 200 generations. Magnus Kirby will talk about the excavation, the objects found and how they reveal the fascinating history of this site.


Thursday 16 May, 7pm
Talk – Swordcraft through the Ages with Andrew Nicholson, Historic Environment Records Officer

Andrew Nicholson will give a talk on how swords were made and used through the ages, complete with demonstrations! In direct combat who would win – the fighter with the Early Iron Age iron sword or the Lockerbie Bronze Age sword? The talk will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to see replica swords close up, view the exhibition and ask informal questions of Andrew and museum staff. Suitable for all ages.


Saturday 18 May, 2pm – 3.30pm
Cholera! – A guided walk with historian Frances Wilkins

This circular tour reconstructs the dramatic story of the 1832 Dumfries Cholera Outbreak. Where did it start? How fast did it spread? What were the theories about its origin and cure? Where did the victims live? How did the doctors cope? This event coincides with the publication of “A History of Dumfries and Galloway in 100 Documents”, Part 2, which includes a major article on the outbreak based on the Dumfries & Galloway Courier’s weekly reports and comments. Starting and finishing at Dumfries Museum this tour involves easy walking on pavements and footpaths.


Saturday 15 June – Sunday 18 August
The Great Moss

The internationally important Lochar mosses, one of the largest areas of raised bog in Europe, played an important role in the history of Dumfries and Galloway. This exhibition investigates the human and natural history of these peatlands, focusing on archaeological finds from the area and on its unique ecology, including its carbon storage potential. Amongst the fascinating exhibits at Dumfries Museum will be an Iron Age torc and bowl, discovered in the Lochar Moss in the 1840s and returning to the area for the first time in 150 years as one of a handful of 2013 British Museum loans made possible by their Spotlight loan programme. Organised through the British Museum’s Partnership UK Scheme these loans have been funded by the Art Fund prize awarded to the British Museum in 2011.
Part of the British Ecological Society’s Festival of Ecology.


Friday 14 June, 7pm
The Great Moss exhibition launch at Dumfries Museum

Please join us at Dumfries Museum for the official launch of The Great Moss exhibition.
The evening will start with a short talk by Biodiversity Officer Peter Norman who carried out extensive research culminating in this exhibition. Archaeologist John Pickin will join Peter to introduce the fascinating finds from the moss. Refreshments will be served and there will be an informal opportunity to view the exhibition and ask Peter and museum staff questions.


The Great Moss Events


Thursday 27 June, 2pm
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Caerlaverock, Wetlands Centre, Eastpark Farm,Caerlaverock, DG1 4RS
Talk: The Wildlife of The Great Moss with Peter Norman, Biodiversity Officer

Join Peter for an illustrated journey across one of the largest bogs in Western Europe, discovering the wildlife that lives there today and in the past, including Boars, Bitterns and Black Grouse. Watch out for the carnivorous plants! No booking required for this event.

Thursday 27 June, 7pm
at Dumfries Museum
Talk: Celtic Art Dr Jody Joy, Curator, British and European Iron Age Collections at the British Museum

Dr Jody Joy is responsible for the European Iron Age collections at the British Museum. He has a particular interest in Celtic, or La Tène, art as well as research interests in the social significance of metalworking technology; feasting and feasting vessels. This talk will include a discussion of the Lochar Moss Iron Age torc and bowl on loan from the British Museum for The Great Moss exhibition.

The Great Moss excursions

These are for real bog enthusiasts who don’t mind getting their feet (and possibly more) wet. Join biodiversity officer Peter Norman and other experts in peat bog plants, animals and restoration projects for a journey into the heart of The Great Moss. Discover the range of plants and wildlife adapted to this wetland world. Appropriate footwear and waterproofs essential.
Dates and details will be advertised in May.
Numbers will be limited, to book a place please call Dumfries Museum on 01387 253374.

Event 1: Walk on Longbridge Muir
See the results of the bog restoration that took place in 2001 and discover bog plants and animals. This event is being organised in conjunction with Forestry Commission Scotland.
Event 2: Cruck Cottage open day and Ironhirst Moss walk
The Cruck Cottage, an eighteenth century peasants cottage in Torthorwald, will be open for the day. Find out how a peat cutter might have lived and how building materials were sourced from the Moss, both for the original construction and the 1990s restoration of the cottage. For those interested, there will also be a guided walk from Mouswald into Ironhirst Moss to look at the remains of domestic and industrial peat cutting. This event is being organised in partnership with the Cruck Cottage Heritage Association.


Saturday 24 August – Saturday 9 November
Tiger, Tiger

Pioneering the use of tripwires and camera traps, Frederick Walter Champion (1893 – 1970) produced some amazing photographs of Indian wildlife in the 1920s and 30s. In his role with the Imperial Forestry Service in India, Champion came in close contact with tourist hunters when he was obliged to hand out hunting permits. It is said that he occasionally indulged his burgeoning preservationist tendencies by handing out permits to areas known to be tiger free! As soon as he was able, Champion went against the fashion for shooting with rifles and took up the camera. The resulting work is stunning and evocative. For the first time viewers were truly able to witness animals in their natural state. The night shots triggered by tripwires were, at the time, completely unique and his work has had a profound effect on many wildlife photographers and conservation supporters since. Fred Champion later retired to a much quieter life at Cairnsmore on the edge of the Galloway Forest Park. His photographs were donated by his family to the Natural History Museum in London. This exhibition celebrates his life’s work with a selection of 50 of his images. The exhibition also includes a slide show of recent work by well known wildlife photographer Keith Kirk.


Thursday 29 August, 7pm
Talk: Contemporary wildlife photography with Keith Kirk

Contemporary wildlife photographer and Countryside Ranger Keith Kirk brings us up to date with the most advanced methods now used in wildlife photography. Illustrated by Keith’s own stunning wildlife images this talk is for people interested in wildlife and those interested in photographic techniques.


Thursday 17 October 7pm
Tripwire for a Tiger: In The Pugmarks of Galloway’s Tigerman
Talk by F W Champion’s grandson, James Champion.

Details in the next programme.

Doors Open Day September 2013

Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura will be participating in Doors Open Days 2013 – look out for details on the web site, www.doorsopendays.org.uk and in the press.


2012 Exhibitions

Down the Dock: The Dock Delineated

15 September -3 November

Expanding on this year’s foyer exhibition, Down the Dock, this gallery exhibition traces different aspects of Dumfries’ Dock through paintings, drawings, photographs, maps and plans. This small, but highly significant, piece of land is probably the most frequently illustrated view of Dumfries, reflecting just how much of the town’s history is contained there.

There are large scale Ordnance Survey maps from the 1800s, so detailed that mooring posts, cast iron seats, pumps and wells are shown. Very recently released aerial photographs illustrate the development of the Dock Park in the 1920s. Taken in the early days of aviation from extremely low altitudes by ex-First World War pilots these images give an enthralling view of a Dumfries which has

largely disappeared. There are architectural drawings of the park’s original features and a chance to see plans and drawings of the forthcoming regeneration project which will return the Dock Park to its former glory.


Friday 18 May – Sunday 26 August

This unique exhibition brings together prints, weaponry, scroll paintings, lacquer ware, ceramics,
and other fascinating Japanese material from the collections at Dumfries Museum with items kindly
loaned by local people and institutions.

Visitors will be able to see both sides of Japanese culture, comparing striking samurai warrior costume
and tales of heroics with cute netsuke carvings and pretty lacquer boxes. This is a rare chance to see
both the beautiful and the disturbing, and to discover the connections between Japan and Dumfries
and Galloway.

Down the Dock

Saturday 25th February – Saturday 29 December 2012

This exhibition reveals the story of Dumfries Dock. The narrow strip of land along the east bank of the
River Nith was not only the town’s harbour, it served as a gathering place, a pasture and a meadow,
provided orchards and nurseries, bleaching fields and drying greens, it was the town’s first ever
industrial area, later becoming a tree-lined riverside promenade, and finally a popular municipal park.

2012 marks the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and this exhibition will also focus on the
memorial to the disaster which is located in the park, and tells the story of the men from Dumfries
who lost their lives in the accident.

April 15th 2012 marks the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Down the Dock tells the story

of the disaster from a local perspective. A learning pack for local school classes and community
learning groups on Dumfries’ Titanic connections is available from Dumfries Museum, please email
dumfries.museum@dumgal.gov.uk, or telephone 01387 253374.