Happy Birthday John Muir!

Saturday 21 April marks John Muir’s 180th Birthday. Mark the day by coming to see us in his Birthplace and explore where his story began, we will have crafts and stories throughout the day to help celebrate.  Alternative if you want to enjoy the beautiful weather we are going to have, take advantage of one of the many events being held along the John Muir Way.  You will find a listing on

Whatever you decide to do – enjoy!

Sounds of John Muir

We are used to seeing the beautiful images of the wilderness John Muir spoke out so eloquently to keep wild. It is much more difficult to share the natural music of these lands, however Acoustic Ecologist Gordon Hempton has done just that. After following in Muir’s footsteps walking from San Francisco to Yosemite in the 1990s, Hempton now lives just outside Olympic National Park, and spends time making recordings of the natural world without any sound pollution from industry or travel, managing to link some sounds to those described by Muir in his writing.


For more information and to hear some of the recordings including ‘Snow Melting into Music’, ‘Soda Springs’ and ‘The song of the Merced’, follow this link to

William Keith and John Muir: Kindred Souls

Our next exhibition due to open in 1 April 2018 will be curated by Friends of John Muir’s Birthplace. The theme is the life of artist William Keith and his friendship with John Muir. Entitled ‘William Keith and John Muir: Kindred Souls’, it charts Keith’s life from his birth on 21 November 1838 in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, until he and Muir first met in Yosemite Valley in October 1872.  The two instantly became friends, bound together by similar interests in, and attitudes towards, nature and of course their Scottishness. The exhibition continues to trace their togetherness until Keith’s death in Berkeley, California, on 13 April 1911.  As a measure of how close the two Scots were, John Muir was the leading pallbearer at his friend’s funeral.

A prolific painter, mainly in oils, Keith is estimated to have produced around 4,000 paintings and sketches. Tragically half were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906, either in his studio or in the homes of patrons.  As well as using images of his painting to illustrate the text, Friends’ exhibition includes eight reproductions of Keith works.

Entrance to the exhibition is free

New Saturday Storytimes!

You may already be familiar with our drop in craft sessions each weekend, however starting from Saturday 10 March we will be adding to this offer by holding storytime sessions suitable for pre-school and early primary school children at 11am and 2.30pm each Saturday.  Themes will be linked to our drop in for that week so Saturday 10 March will be Mother’s Day Flower Wreaths, butterflies and linked stories, Saturday 17 March will have a froggie theme and Saturday 24 March is all about birds. Sessions are free, however donations towards craft materials are always welcome. We look forward to seeing you then!

The Lost Words

With acrostic ‘spells’ by Robert Macfarlane and beautiful watercolour artwork by Jackie Morris, The Lost Words conjures back to glorious life some natural words fading from usage.

Published in October 2017, this stunning book focuses on words that are moving to the margins of many children’s lives and stories – bluebell, dandelion, otter, kingfisher, acorn – and presents them as both challenge and celebration.

Now available in John Muir’s Birthplace for £20, this book makes a lovely gift for all ages, or just treat yourself!  The John Muir Trust has also produced some fantastic resources for groups and schools which can be found on their website including an explorer’s guide, posters and a literature and nature resource.

Lothian Lavender

We are delighted to welcome on board Lothian Lavender as a new line in gift for our ‘Locally Sourced..’ shop.

 ‘We are newly established lavender growers in Scotland, growing the flowers we use in our dried lavender gifts. Our family farm is nestled at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills in East Lothian.

Known as the ‘Garden of Scotland’, East Lothian has proven itself to be well suited to growing our lavender.’

With beautifully packaged products including soap, candles, wax melts and lavender bags, these lovely gifts are very reasonably priced starting from only £1.50, please pop in for a look!

Locally Made

ALocally made shops 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.


First Editions on Display

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.First edition case


Interesting Comments

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!