From prehistoric times to the present day, artefacts, documents and photographs illustrate the history of Dollar. A brief description of some of what may be seen is given below.


Local finds from Bronze Age burials on loan from the National Museums of Scotland give an insight into early inhabitants of the Hillfoots. Aerial photographs and maps show where the archaeological finds were made.

Castle Campbell

Castle Campbell c.1850

Later inhabitants of Dollar lived in the shadow of Castle Gloum, renamed Castle Campbell, the lowland dwelling of the Earls of Argyll.

The Castle was burnt in 1654, and the ruin was sold along with the local Campbell lands around 1800. Early travellers and artists have left evidence of how the castle and village looked at this time, and these may be seen in the museum.

Dollar Academy

The small village with a woollen mill and a bleachfield changed after local boy John McNabb left a fortune which was used to found Dollar Academy in 1818. Dollar grew as the New Town was built to accommodate teachers, boarders and the families who moved to Dollar to take advantage of the low fees paid by residents of the village. Dollar Academy has gone on to become one of the top independent schools in Scotland.


The Old Kirk of 1775 became too small to accommodate the congregation and in 1842 the New Church was built. The Disruption led to the building of the Free Church (the West Church, now private housing) and the 19th century also saw the building of the U.P. Church (now the East Burnside Hall) and the Episcopal Church, St James the Great.

Lavinia Malcolm

Town Council

By the end of the 19th century Dollar had its own Town Council, and in 1913 the honour of having the first Lady Provost in Scotland: Lavinia Malcolm. Dollar Town Council disappeared with local government reorganisation in 1976, but a record of all the Provosts, together with photographs and other items are on display in the museum.

The Devon Valley Railway

Steam train at Dollar Station

The railway came to Dollar in 1869. From the 1950s until closure to passengers in 1964, Peter Wilson attempted to document all aspects of the Devon Valley Railway. He took photographs of the stations from Alloa to Kinross and recorded many bridges, signals, gradient signs, etc. He also collected timetables, tickets and leaflets. We have built on his collection and some interesting donations are on display. With the help of Awards for All, a completely new exhibition was mounted in 2009 and all 750 photographs taken by Peter Wilson can be seen in a slideshow. These are also documented in a searchable database and with funding assistance from the Scottish Community Foundation and EDF Energy Renewables have now all been printed.

Granny's Kitchen

Granny's Kitchen

With generous donations from Dollar people, we have been able to furnish our Granny's Kitchen with an array of household items from washing dollies and wooden pulleys to butter pats and flat irons. Children will be particularly interested to see how a Dollar kitchen might have looked at the end of the 19th century.

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Temporary Exhibitions 2018

The Dollar Community and the Great War

Our main new exhibition for 2018 marks the end of the 1st World War. We look at the stories of local men and women who served in the forces and we examine how life was for those who stayed at home in Dollar.

On the home front, the Dollar community supported the war effort in many ways: for example, work parties knitted thousands of socks and other comforts for the troops (original patterns and examples may be handled), vegetables were grown for the Fleet, sphagnum moss was collected in the Ochils, and Belgian refugees and local troops were given hospitality. Summer Time, rationing, watering of beer and banning of penny buns were endured.


The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Black Watch Museums have kindly lent us a variety of WW1 items, which will be on display, and there will be a handling box aimed at younger visitors, containing a German helmet, a periscope, shrapnel, a Princess Mary box and many other interesting WW1 artefacts. There will be a series of talks relating to the exhibition.

The Bicentenary of Dollar Academy

This display celebrates the 200th anniversary of the founding of Dollar Academy in 1818. It tells the story of the early years, starting with the part played by local boy, John McNabb, who made a fortune at sea and left half to Dollar Kirk Session for "a charity or school for the poor of the parish".

Others who played important roles are the Rev. Andrew Mylne, the first Rector, Craufurd Tait of Harviestoun and William Playfair, architect. The result was a magnificent building containing a unique, co-educational, day and boarding school, which provided free or very cheap education for all local children, long before school attendance was universal.

30 Years of Dollar Museum

The Museum opened at Easter 1988 when the Parish Church allowed us the use of a small room in The Old Schoolhouse. Every item in our tiny, initial Collection was on display. The success of the venture led to us being offered the current premises in Castle Campbell Hall and, after much fundraising, we were runners-up to The Discovery in the Scottish Museum of the Year Awards. Lottery funding, upgrading, extension and Royal Visits followed.

It has been a real community project, run by Volunteers and Friends from the start. We have put on over 100 exhibitions and many Dollar societies have been involved. A large Collection has been built up, and photographs, books, maps, etc. of local interest are available in the Reading Room, which is well patronised by visitors from near and far

Those who find the stairs up to the Reading Room difficult will be pleased that they may now sit and look at photos downstairs.

Dollar and the Orient

An exhibition illustrating Dollar's links with China and Japan.

The Japanese Garden at Cowden, near Dollar, was created by Ella Christie, an intrepid Victorian traveller who was the first European woman to visit Tibet. She employed a Japanese garden designer, Taki Handa, and a gardener, Shinzaburo Matsuo, who lived beside the garden for many years. The garden was described by Professor Suzuki as 'the best in the western world' and had many visitors, including Queen Mary.

James Legge travelled to China as a missionary and translator and later became the first Professor of Chinese at Oxford University. He sent his children to Dollar Academy and while on leave in Dollar in 1867 he invited the scholar Wang T'ao to help him translate the Chinese classics into English. Wang T'ao kept a diary during his two-year trip and wrote lively descriptions of his travels from Hong Kong to Scotland. The exhibition concentrates on his experiences in and around Dollar.

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Some Past Exhibitions 1988 - 2017

Japanese Gardens at Cowden
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Page updated 12 April 2018