Dumfries Museum

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Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura
Dumfries Museum Windmill tower at night.jpg
Exterior view of the Camera Obscura
General information
Architectural style Victorian and modern
Town or city Dumfries
Country Scotland
Coordinates 55°03′55″N 3°36′53″W / 55.0652°N 3.6146°W / 55.0652; -3.6146Coordinates: 55°03′55″N 3°36′53″W / 55.0652°N 3.6146°W / 55.0652; -3.6146
Renovated 2011

Dumfries Museum and Camera Obscura, located in Dumfries in Dumfries & Galloway, is the largest museum in the region. The museum has extensive collections relating to local and history from the pre-historic era. The museum also has the world's oldest working Camera Obscura. Admission is free, however a small fee applies for the Camera Obscura.


The museum's collections cover all material relating to the natural history and human pre-history of the region, from geology to dress, folk material, archaeology and early photographs.[1]

Notable artefacts include:


Originally built as a four-storey windmill on Corbelly hill, the highest point in Maxwelltown, in 1798, the site was purchased by Dumfries and Maxwellton Astronomical Society in 1834.[9] Over a two-year period the tower was converted into an Observatory,[10] and with advice from polar explorer Sir John Ross, a telescope was purchased from a Mr Morton of Kilmarnock. With its completion in 1836, unfortunately the observatory missed the arrival of Halley's comet; however, it was used in this role until 1872.

The main hall of the museum was built in 1862, and housed the collections of the newly founded Dumfries and Galloway Natural History & Antiquarian Society. In 1981 a major addition of a new gallery, shop, search room and offices for curatorial staff was added. In 2011 the exterior of the windmill tower was refurbished.[11]

Camera Obscura[edit]

The camera obscura is currently the oldest working example in the world, and has been in continuous operation since 1836.[12] The instrument, based in the top level of the windmill tower, offers a complete 360° panorama of the surrounding landscape. The image is projected onto a focusing table below, and operated using a simple rope mechanism.[13] In order to protect the instrument it is only operated during the summer months and on days when weather conditions are clear.[14]


  1. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/about/partner-museums/a-z-list-of-partners/dumfries-museum-camera-obscura.aspx
  2. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/lives-in-key-periods/the-medieval-period-(1100ad-1499ad)/wars-of-independence/robert-(i)-the-bruce/robert-the-bruce,-cast-of-his-skull.aspx
  3. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/lives-in-key-periods/archaeology/the-bronze-age/ritual/cist-burial,-mainsriddle,-colvend-and-southwick.aspx
  4. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/lives-in-key-periods/archaeology/roman/ritual-and-religion.aspx
  5. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/lives-in-key-periods/archaeology/early-medieval-(400ad-1099ad)/early-christians.aspx
  6. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/key-people/science-invention/kirkpatrick-macmillan/replica-of-kirkpatrick-macmillans-bicycle.aspx
  7. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/key-people/collectors-explorers/dr-werner-kissling.aspx
  8. ^ http://www.futuremuseum.co.uk/collections/people/key-people/writers-poets/thomas-carlyle.aspx
  9. ^ http://www.nothingtoseehere.net/2010/06/dumfries_camera_obscura_dumfri.html
  10. ^ http://www.electricscotland.com/history/dumfries/history60.htm
  11. ^ http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/dumfries/museum/
  12. ^ https://www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/dumfries-museum-and-camera-obscura-p251151
  13. ^ http://www.nothingtoseehere.net/2010/06/dumfries_camera_obscura_dumfri.html
  14. ^ http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/article/15737/Dumfries-Museum-and-Camera-Obscura

External links[edit]