Kilmarnock’s Dick Institute is well worth a visit

Looking for a free, fun afternoon out? Then visit Kilmarnock’s stunning Dick Institute which has recently undergone a transformation. The works have allowed the beautiful period details of the building to shine including the stained glass windows and a reconfiguration has allowed space for a new cafe area.


Explore the Dean Castle’s fabulous and important collections of early musical instruments, arms and armour, tapestries and more. These collections are on display at the Dick Institute whilst Dean Castle is closed for restoration works to take place.  The musical instrument collection is part of the Recognised Collection of National Significance and boasts one of the earliest violins in existence. The significance and quality of some of the musical instruments has been compared to those found in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. so are well worth a visit!


There’s also local, social and natural history items and archaeology collections on display too including old favourites, Brian the Lion and the whale jawbone. The Johnnie Walker display features a selection of illustrations and objects from the company and from East Ayrshire’s own collections.


The exhibition spaces change on a regular basis and the Dick Institute has been described as ‘Scotland’s finest municipal gallery’ through hosting an ambitious range of temporary exhibitions and is regularly the only Scottish venue for significant shows.

Previous major exhibitions at the Dick Institute have included Quentin Blake, Wallace and Gromit, Bill Viola, Michael Morpurgo: A Lifetime in Stories, Bricktropolis, Robert Colquhoun, Abram Games, Pop Art in Print and Gerhard Richter, many in partnership with national institutions including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Galleries Scotland, TATE Modern, Artist Rooms and the Crafts Council.


Relax with your favourite book in the new café with a coffee and slice of cake. There’s a great selection of books for all ages and interests and library members also get free access to BorrowBox. Download the app and browse hundreds of ebooks and audiobooks giving you access to your favourite authors 24/7.


The newly refurbished Digital Space plays host to a number of activities. For younger members there are digital sessions including Minecraft and Coding Clubs and our Digital Lounge sessions are ideal for those who need some expert advice on using their tablets and devices.


The Dick Institute is open Tuesday - Saturday. Drop in for a visit! For more information about exhibitions or events call 01564 554300.

Opening hours: Tue & Wed 10am-6pm, Thu 1-8pm, Fri & Sat 10am – 4pm