Items from the National Burns Collection were on show in this exclusive Robert Burns exhibition, which toured Scotland in 2009, the 250th anniversary of Burns's birth. A preview was at the National Library of Scotland from 7 November 2008 to 1 February 2009.
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A major interactive touring exhibition uncovers the myth behind the man widely regarded as Scotland's 'national bard'.
'Zig-Zag: the Paths of Robert Burns' lets us follow him on his travels and learn more about his work as a poet and collector of folk songs. It also examines Burns's relationships with women and the religious, political and social establishment.
Creating his own myth
The exhibition uses Robert Burns's own words to show how he knowingly created his own myth. Its title is based on a letter Burns wrote in 1787. Looking at the course of his life, the poet wrote that 'keen Sensibility and riotous Passions may still make him zig-zag in his future path of life.'
Unique items from museums and galleries across the country, as well as the National Library of Scotland's collections feature in the exhibition. Highlights include:
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- The manuscript of the well-known song 'Auld Lang Syne'
- Burns's drinking horn
- The first printed edition of his poems - the Kilmarnock edition (1786)
- Manuscripts of poems including 'Tam O'Shanter', 'Holy Willie's Prayer' and 'Ae Fond Kiss'
- The journal of Burns's travels in the Highlands
- Alexander Nasmyth's portrait of Robert Burns
- The Glenriddell Manuscripts
- Burns's copy of the 'Scots Musical Museum'.
The National Burns Collections
For the first time ever, 'Zig-Zag: the Paths of Robert Burns' brings together a selection of items from the National Burns Collection. The 36,000 items that make up the collection are normally housed in different cultural centres around the country:
- National Library of Scotland
- National Galleries of Scotland
- Dumfries Museums
- East Ayrshire Museums
- Burns National Heritage Park.
The National Burns Collection was recently recognised as a collection of national significance under Museums Galleries Scotland's Recognition Scheme.
Zig-Zag on tour
The exhibition is on tour in 2009 to mark the 250th anniversary of Burns's birth.
by Alexander Carse.
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- National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh: 7 November 2008 to 1 February 2009
- Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums: 14 February to 11 April 2009
- Gracefield Studios, Gracefield Art Centre, Dumfries: July-August 2009
- Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow University: October-November 2009
This event was part of Homecoming Scotland 2009 — a year-long programme celebrating Scottish culture and heritage.
- Robert Burns web feature — for resources in the National Library.