Zig-Zag: The paths of Robert Burns

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.


Robert Burns portrait, courtesy of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Burns, by Alexander
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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:

Drinking cup, courtesy of Dumfries and Galloway Council, Nithsdale Museums
Burns's drinking
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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.

Tour dates:

Painting, courtesy of the Trustees of Burns Monument and Burns Cottage
Mauchline Holy Fair
by Alexander Carse.
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Homecoming Scotland 2009 logo

This event was part of Homecoming Scotland 2009 — a year-long programme celebrating Scottish culture and heritage.

See also:


Past exhibitions page


Exhibitions overview

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