Learning on the Job

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.


School Visit Season!

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 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.


John Muir Way News!

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.


Symington the Dog completes John Muir Way

Zara the Dog completes John Muir Way

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!

NPS ladies Completing John Muir Way

NPS ladies Completing John Muir Way

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!

Doors Open Weekend

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?

This event is part of Edinburgh Doors Open Day run by the Cockburn Association, look here for further details about other events happening this weekend.

John Muir Way Pin Badges

For the very first time we have beautiful John Muir Way pin badges available for sale in John Muir’s Birthplace. If you are looking for a momento of your journey along the Way or even just something to remind you of your visit to Dunbar, at only £3 each these are irresistible. To find out more about walking the John Muir Way, please see John Muir Way or visit

Guide Dogs visit John Muir’s Birthplace

We had a lovely visit on 2 August from a Guide Dogs for the Blind group undertaking the John Muir Award with the NTS Rangers at Newhailes. The group had a lovely morning exploring the Birthplace and enjoyed discovering our collection of handling objects to bring the story to life for them. Guide Dogs Woody and Royal enjoyed the well deserved attention from Museum Staff.

For more information on the John Muir Award, open to groups or individuals, visit the John Muir Award Website. If you would like to find out more about group visits to John Muir’s Birthplace look at our Group Visit Section, or call 01368 865899.


Newhailes Group John Muir Way                   Newhailes group top floor



Row Row Row your boat along the John Muir Way

Local rowing club become the first to complete iconic walk by boat

Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club has become the first to complete the John Muir Way by boat.

Over 20 local rowers took part in the challenge which mirrored the 134 miles of the John Muir Way stretching from Helensburgh to Dunbar.

The intrepid adventurers set out on the water at Helensburgh on 17 July and became the first Scottish coastal rowing team to tackle the coast-to-coast route which commemorates the journey of world-renowned conservationist, John Muir. 

The team left Helensburgh and rowed up the Clyde shipping lane, into the Forth-Clyde Canal (40 locks, 16 bridges) past Kirkintilloch, Auchinstarry, Bonnybridge, the Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies, into the Forth near Boness, then down the coast past South Queensferry, Post Seton, Aberlady, North Berwick and finally arrived in Dunbar.

The adventurous team of 23 were aged from 14 to 76 and have clocked up many miles as a group with many having trained together for over five years.

Dunbar local and Club Secretary, Kenny Maule (66) took part in the event as well as co-ordinating the challenge with his wife, Pamela (60).

He explained the thinking behind the idea: “This summer the team were looking for a row that would offer interesting challenges combined with taking in some of Scotland’s beautiful scenery along the way.

“Someone suggested that we row around the whole of Scotland and while this sounded like a wonderful idea, logistically it would have caused a few hiccups. We soon realised that we already have an abundance of beautiful coastal scenery on our doorstep so the John Muir Way became the obvious choice.

“As Dunbar locals, we pass John Muir’s birthplace every day. His legacy is an integral part of our community’s history so it was particularly special for us to select this route.”

The John Muir Way – a flagship project of the Central Scotland Green Network – takes in castles, historic towns and villages, stunning coastal scenery as well as Scotland’s first national park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, and has already attracted walkers, cyclists and now rowers from across the globe.

Keith Geddes, Chair of the Central Scotland Green Network Trust – which drives forward the delivery of the CSGN, said: “Three years on from the launch of the John Muir Way, I’m proud to see Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club challenging the norm and echoing the adventurous nature of John Muir himself.

“This also highlights the growing understanding in Scotland of Muir’s significance throughout the world and we look forward to many more people completing the 134 mile route whether by foot, bike or any other creative way they can think of.”

For further information about the John Muir Way, please visit – a dedicated website on the 134 mile route with key information to help people plan their trip.  You can also like the John Muir Way on Facebook and follow the John Muir Way on Twitter

To enquire about joining Dunbar Coastal Rowing Club, please visit their Facebook page.


Group visits for 2017/2018 session

Having barely drawn breath following a very busy 3 months of school visits, we have started to take class bookings for the 2017/2018 session.  Class visits to John Muir’s Birthplace can be undertaken at any time of year and typically last around 1.5 – 2 hours, including an introduction, time to explore all 3 floors of information on John Muir and his legacy, and a feedback session at the end, where the children get the opportunity to share their learning.

Tracy Robertson, Visitor Services Officer, said ‘It has been a hectic few months, with over 1500 schoolchildren visiting John Muir’s Birthplace, usually as part of East Lothian’s John Muir Citizenship Project or as part of a John Muir Award Group.  We enjoy the children’s excitement and enthusiasm when they come to us, and no 2 groups are the same, which keeps the staff on our toes!’

Groups wanting to visit during the 2017/2018 session are advised to book early to avoid disappointment, please call 01368 865899 or email for further information.

Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence

We are delighted to have been awarded a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence for the 2nd year running. Jo Moulin, Museums Officer East said ‘Thank you to all our visitors who take the time to leave Tripadvisor comments following their visit. Our staff are extremely enthusiastic about John Muir and his legacy and enjoy talking to our visitors, and we appreciate this recognition.’