Burns Monument Centre
Scotland's first custom-built ancestral history hub, The Burns Monument Centre, was officially opened in Kilmarnock today.
Constructed around W.G. Stevenson's iconic statue of Burns, the £5 million centre makes the process of researching family roots simpler by drawing together an archive centre, registration service, local and family history library under one roof.
Inspired by the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, one of the key five themes of Homecoming is 'culture and heritage' and it is hoped this new state-of-the-art centre will attract some of Scotland's 40 million diaspora back 'home' to explore their roots.
The facility in Kay Park also showcases a Burns Collection of 1,500 volumes containing poetry, songs, letters and a 3 dimensional digitised version of the Kilmarnock Edition.
Opening the new centre First Minister Alex Salmond said:
"2009 is a unique year for visitors to join in the celebration of Scotland's great contributions to the world and I am delighted to open the Burns Monument Centre during our Homecoming year.
"Inspired by the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, Homecoming extends an invitation to people around the world, with a family link or an affinity for Scotland to come home, reconnect and play a part in the dynamic, modern country we are building.
"This impressive £5 million centre offers visitors from near and far the opportunity to trace their family tree and to learn more about Scotland's rich culture, history and heritage.
"Ancestral tourism is worth £64 million annually to the Scottish economy and has the potential for significant growth with Homecoming, and its legacy, igniting interest in Scotland's past and future.
"This fantastic new centre will provide a significant boost to local tourism and will help entice some of the 40 million strong Scots Diaspora back to Scotland to explore their heritage and roots further."