'Zig-Zag: The paths of Burns'

Major touring exhibition launched as part of Homecoming celebrations

Treasures from the National Burns Collection will be brought together under one roof next month when the National Library of Scotland hosts a preview of the exhibition, 'Zig-Zag: The paths of Robert Burns' in Edinburgh from Friday 7 November. Heralding Homecoming Scotland 2009 and the 250th anniversary of Burns's birth, this major exhibition will go on to tour to Aberdeen, Dumfries and Glasgow throughout the Year of Homecoming and will include such iconic items as manuscripts of 'Auld lang syne' and 'Tam O'Shanter' as well as a first edition of Burns's first published work.

Pictures, sound and the poet's own words combine to show how Burns consciously created his own myth — in particular through the famous autobiographical letter of 1787, in which Burns explored the course of his life, observing that 'keen Sensibility and riotous Passions may still make him zig-zag in his future path of life.'

Burns's enduring influence has recently been demonstrated by his appearance in news stories alongside the likes of Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan. The exhibition explores his life thematically, looking at his relationships with women and with the religious, political and social establishment as well as his travels around Scotland and, of course, his work both as a poet and a collector of songs.

NLS Education and Interpretative Services Manager Nat Edwards said: 'The "zigzag" of the exhibition's title comes from Burns's own hand and, on that theme, the exhibition concentrates on Burns in his own words. The zigzag he talks about can be taken to reflect his physical journeys around Scotland, or more abstractly his artistic journey as writer and poet. It also examines the blurred lines between the man and the myth which Burns played his own part in creating.'

National Librarian Martyn Wade said: 'There can be no more fitting way to mark the 250th anniversary of Burns's birth than to bring together some of the highlights of the national collection of Burns material for the first time and, to take it around the country. This will allow a great many people to see it, whether they live here in Scotland or have come to visit us as part of Homecoming Scotland 2009.'

Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer, EventScotland said 'The National Burns Collection Touring Exhibition is at the heart of our Homecoming Scotland programme which is inspired by the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. We are delighted to be a partner in this major exhibition which tours Scotland throughout 2009 and celebrates the life of our national bard.'

The exhibition will include manuscripts, printed material, artworks, museum artefacts and interactive features, with material from sources including the collections of the National Library of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, Dumfries Museums and East Ayrshire Museums and Burns National Heritage Park. The National Burns Collection is held throughout Scotland, comprises 36,000 items in all and was recently recognised as a collection of national significance under Museums and Galleries Scotland's Significance Scheme.

27 October 2008




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