East Lothian Council Museums Service cares for and conserves a large and continually growing collection of objects for the people of East Lothian. The Collection comprise some 25,000 objects ranging from fine art by local artists and/or of local subjects e.g. people or landscapes, through to very large objects such as steam locomotives! We also look after archaeological finds, ceramics from the pottery industries that once flourished along the East Lothian coastline, textiles and costumes, and natural history specimens of local or now extinct wildlife. Particular strengths lie with objects illustrating domestic, working and community life over the last hundreds of years. Of special importance are the Cornish Beam Engine at Prestongrange Museum, banners from the Haddington Weavers and Craighall Friendly Societies and a collection of stone fishing anchors. The art collection includes some 200 oil paintings and is continually growing via donations and purchases with assistance from the National Fund for Acquisitions. Notable highlights include several works by John Bellany, William Marshall Brown, William Darling MacKay, Patrick William Adam and William Stewart McGeorge.
We use our collections in exhibitions, for education and outreach projects and for display but only about 1% of this vast and varied collection can be displayed in our museums and libraries at any one time. However, our purpose built environmentally-controlled store at the Museums Service Headquarters is publicly accessible. Requests are available to see specific objects and collections via the Collections Officer. Access to the collections is FREE and available to anyone by prior appointment and group visits can also be arranged. Some of the objects can also be seen by using the search tool on the JGC website, so there are lots of opportunities to discover the wonderful objects we look after.
Please contact us via this website to make an appointment. For further information on accessing collections please see our Terms and Conditions and the Code of Practice for using ELCMS research materials. Please note that there are limited refreshment facilities at headquarters but catering facilities are available locally in Haddington town centre.
Check out the John Gray Centre website for more information on our collections and those of the Local History Centre and Archives. Also, discover more about our objects on the East Lothian Group on Flickr.