Museums

History

´╗┐One of  Kilmarnock’s most iconic buildings, the Dick Institute, was funded by James Dick.

James Dick was born in 1823 in Soulis Street, Kilmarnock, and had 4 brothers and sisters. The family was poor, but when James Dick died in 1902 he left an estate of over £1,000,000, an enormous amount of money at the time. From humble beginnings James, and his brother Robert, became businessmen of world-wide importance.

James in particular was keen to give something back, and was latterly known as a philanthropist and benefactor to a variety of good causes. For Kilmarnock, his most important gift was that he paid for the town's new museum, art gallery and library, opened in 1901. The Dick Institute was named for James' brother Robert, who had died in 1891.

The building was severely damaged by fire only eight years after opening its doors and some of the museum’s collections were lost. It reopened in 1911 and was used as an auxiliary hospital in 1917 during the World War 1.

Today, the Dick Institute continues to be one of the most important cultural facilities in South West Scotland.

Visit our future museum website using the link on the right and see some of our online collections and the building’s history. We hope it will inspire you to visit the Dick Institute and our other venues to discover more.