As a Gold Green Tourism venue, we are always striving at John Muir’s Birthplace to find new ways of looking after the environment and championing local producers.
Our latest innovation is to highlight local craftspeople in our shop. We now have a new ‘Locally Made…’ section in which all items for sale are produced within 30 miles of Dunbar. So why not pop in for a look and treat yourself to some lovely toiletries from Chain Bridge Honey Farm, or some lovely Sea Glass Jewellery from Back from the Beach. We have lovely ties and scarves in John Muir Way Tartan from Gordon Nicholson as well as Sheila Sim and Gordon Jenkinson Cards and Lynn Fulton Ceramics.
Dunbar and East Lothian has long provided inspiration for artists and makers, and this is our small way of celebrating their work.
Some time ago, ‘Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace’ were gifted a first edition copy of John Muir’s first book ‘Mountains of California’ (1894) and two first edition copies of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ (1913). They are currently on display in the exhibition room in the Birthplace. Two bear inscriptions by friends of John Muir but one of the copies of ‘Boyhood and Youth’ is extra special. It was sent by the great man himself to a Dunbar photographer Thomas T Bisset who lived at Rose Cottage on Woodbush Brae. It bears the inscription in Muir’s handwriting, “To Thomas T Bisset, with fond regard, John Muir, Martinez, January 1914″. Among other items in the display is a copy of Bisset’s earlier letter to Muir which explains Muir’s gift and four ‘Bisset Series’ postcards.
On cold, damp January days, when visitor numbers are not quite reaching the heady numbers we can see in the summer months, and we have updated our visitor number spreadsheets and dusted the retail shelves to within an inch of their lives, we allow ourselves the pleasure of having a look through our visitor comments book. We are extremely lucky that our visitors are always very complimentary about our display and our staff, however there was one particular comment that caught our eye last week:
Left by a lovely lady from Taiwan, it means ‘Wonderful, love the nature.’ A sentiment we certainly agree with!
Merry Christmas to all our visitors, and we hope you have a happy and healthy 2018!
John Muir’s Birthplace will be closed from 25 December until 2 January inclusive, and we will reopen on Wed 3 January at 10am.
We are looking forward to a very busy 2018 which includes some thrilling plans for the John Muir Award 21st Birthday, an exhibition on John Muir and William Keith and exciting developments within our shop to emphasis local producers.
We also anticipate welcoming many more of you walking the John Muir Way, if you complete this in 2018 remember to pop in for your certificate.
We are delighted to be hosting images from the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year once again. This ever popular show contains some amazing images, including well known and unfamiliar views from across our beautiful country.
Now in its third year, the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year competition is the brainchild of respected Scottish Landscape photographer, Stuart Lowe. His aim is to showcase the work and raise the profiles of the many talented photographers who live in, and come to Scotland to capture breathtaking scenery through their lenses.
It is a true photographer of the year competition, where the overall winner is chosen from a portfolio of work and judged from the quality of their images combined with field-craft and genuine photography skills.
On display are 8 of the winners of the John Muir Trust – Wild Spaces category of the competition, awarded to photographers whose images represent Scotland’s wild places and 10 further images from other categories.
To find out more about the competition please visit http://www.slpoty.co.uk/.
John Muir’s Birthplace
As a sixth year student from the Berwickshire High School, I spent this week on work experience at the John Muir’s Birthplace and the John Gray Centre in East Lothian. I got to experience what it is like to work in these places while also having the opportunity to see and learn about lots of historical things.
I saw the behind the scenes of many different job roles surrounding museums, such as general work in the museum, planning exhibitions and events, talks, working in collections and archives and also maintaining and updating the museums. All of these jobs were more complicated than I originally thought. There are many things I didn’t think about when it comes to running a museum, like the many different skills that are necessary. The most unexpected skills I saw utilised were design skills, that needed to be used on the image of the museums.
The main thing I had the opportunity to learn about was John Muir and his legacy and how his story is told through the John Muir’s Birthplace museum. Working in the museum involves taking tours and talks, organising events and exhibitions, working on maintaining the museum and also office work. This job involves a lot of flexibility and the need to be able to adapt to change which is something I didn’t originally consider when I signed up for this work experience placement.
This week has helped me to discover that I would like to work in an office, mainly because I enjoy being organised and planning. Office work was something I got to see at the Dunbar Town House and John Gray Centre, where some of the things they did there was research and planning things. I also discovered that my main skills are in gathering information, which is something I learned from being in the museums, surrounded by information.
We are delighted that we currently have more than 30 East Lothian Primary 5 classes booked to visit John Muir’s Birthplace during this academic year as part of the John Muir Project. Each year East Lothian Council Arts Service sponsors all Primary 5 Classes in the county to undertake the project as part of their Citizenship curriculum. The project includes drama and dance elements exploring John Muir’s life in addition to work with the Countryside Ranger Service in an area close to the School, and a visit to John Muir’s Birthplace to further promote understanding of his life and legacy.
As well as the East Lothian Schools, John Muir’s Birthplace also plays host to several John Muir Award Groups and Schools from outwith the county. During the 2016/17 academic year we welcomed more than 1500 pupils and students, who all went away enthused to find out more about John Muir and how they can keep his legacy alive.
If you are interested in bringing a group of any kind to John Muir’s Birthplace please have a look at the Group and School sections of our website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your specific requirements. Book up for this academic year by Christmas 2017, please note we now only have very limited availability in April, May and June.
September has proved a busy month on the John Muir Way, with a diverse group of visitors coming in daily to claim their completion certificates.
Zara is not the first dog to have completed the John Muir Way, but we felt her very little legs mean that her 134 mile adventure deserves a special mention. Zara is pictured here with her owners, James and Jacquie.
We were also delighted when a group of ladies who all met when working for the US National Park Service visited, also after having completed the John Muir Way. The group were organised by Roberta Moore, an alumni of Great Basin National Park, who has previously visited John Muir’s Birthplace. Several of the ladies had worked at Yosemite, and were delighted to watch our film of their beautiful park. As you can see from the photo, the weather was not kind to them, however it definitely didn’t dampen their spirits!
If you intend completing the John Muir Way and finish in Dunbar, don’t forget to pop in to see us and collect your certificate!
Join us this weekend as we make it easier for our younger visitors to discover more about John Muir with two special trails developed for Doors Open Weekend on 23 and 24 September.
You can choose between a general trail which will encourage you to look carefully through all our displays to find the answers to John Muir questions, or a special John Muir’s Animals trail which will have you looking specifically for different animals from John’s story, and then drawing your favourite.
Everyone who tries the trail will get a special animal sticker, so what are you waiting for?