Strathnaver Museum secure major funding boost

Strathnaver Museum secure major funding boost

Strathnaver Museum has taken a major step forward in realising their vision for creating a world class visitor attraction on the north Sutherland coast after securing £113,157 from Museum Galleries Scotland’s Recovery and Resilience Fund.

As well as supporting the future aspirations and recovery of the popular visitor attraction the funding will help cover operational costs during the 2020 closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Manager, Fiona Mackenzie said “Strathnaver Museum secures 76% of its income from admissions and retail sales so the closure of the museum has had a significant impact on our income generation over 2020. The closure could have had a significant impact on our reserves which have been built up over many years to help fund our much-anticipated refurbishment programme. This welcome funding from MGS will ensure that we enter 2021 in a strong position and are able to carry forward our essential refurbishment programme”.

The funding granted towards recovery will enable Strathnaver Museum to undertake crucial survey work to progress plans for the refurbishment and repair of Strathnaver Museum. The development project will make much needed repairs, improve access to the site and its collection, create additional spaces for community projects and help the Trust to improve its sustainability. 

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said:

“We are pleased to support Strathnaver Museum through the Recovery and Resilience Fund. They have faced severe difficulties caused by the pandemic, but none the less have continued to make exciting plans for their substantial refurbishment programme to become a heritage hub for North West Sutherland.

We are delighted that this fund will support the museum to continue their development as an important hub for regional heritage and an asset for their rural community.”

Strathnaver Museum’s building dates from the mid-18th century and is an important part of the Highland Clearances story. From the pulpit which still dominates the main room, Rev David Mackenzie read out eviction notices to his congregation. Later in 1883 crofters and cottars gathered to give evidence to the Napier Commission which eventually led to them gaining security of tenure.

Strathnaver Museum have secured £1.06 million of the £1.9 million capital funding costs which will secure the building, create a new agricultural annex building and see new interpretation installed across the site. The group are awaiting the outcome of a number of funding applications and have launched a Crowdfunder to help meet an anticipated £30,000 funding gap.

The team are offering some exclusive rewards as part of their Crowdfunder including money off vouchers, behind the scenes tours and the chance to have your name displayed in the refurbished museum. You can contribute to the Crowdfunder here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/refurbishment-of-strathnaver-museum


2019-01-30 Strathnaver Museum volunteers with architect Catriona Hill at a consultation event discussing refurbishment plans in January 2019

Elgin Museum – A year in review

Elgin Museum – A year in review

It’s been a funny old year for us at Elgin Museum (as it has for everyone!). For probably the first time since we opened in 1843, this year Elgin Museum has not been open to visitors.

After a typically busy winter period 2019-20, all of our volunteers and our 3 P/T members of staff had to abandon ship in early March leaving the building in a state comparable to the Mary Celeste (I’d like to say without the water, but sadly we have an ongoing issue of a leaky roof!). Two of our staff were put on furlough, with our Education & Outreach Officer working from home and continuing to deliver activities for our younger audience, albeit online instead of in person. An Emergency Executive Committee of 4 of our Board Members was assembled, and this team has worked tirelessly throughout the year dealing with the day-to-day issues faced by a Museum as well as the various difficulties arising from the COVID-19 situation.

Our Education and Outreach Officer left us in August to take up a teacher training offer – seeing the writing on the wall for museum sector employment? However, thanks to some dedicated volunteers we have been able to carry on offering various children’s activities through our website and social media channels. Our remaining 2 P/T members of staff returned to work in October, following a detailed risk assessment of the building and the implementation of various mitigation measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the Museum. And from mid-November, we began to welcome a small number of Volunteers back to the Museum to assist with an Inventory Project – though it’s quite a different place to work in now than when they left back in March.

Our biggest challenge this year has been having to switch our focus to digital content, albeit with the heavy-hearted awareness that this may exclude some of our regular audience. However, we have been delighted to welcome a new audience who before 2020 were not aware of, nor able to visit, Elgin Museum.

Moving to online activities and events has been a big shift, but our volunteers have risen to the challenge. Our social media channels (see links at end) continue to go from strength to strength; we’ve added a wide variety of family-friendly activities  to our website so people can “Museum From Home”; we launched our blog “Museum Musings”, featuring short pieces written by our volunteers; creating an online jigsaw page ; and we started a regular “cheery update”  to be sent out by email to all of our volunteers, Moray Society members, and other friends of the Museum.



We’ve also expanded our YouTube Channel with “virtual” tours of some of our exhibitions, our family-friendly craft series “Elgin Museum Makes”, and we’ve recently begun our traditional Winter Lecture Series online and in a new format. “Elgin Museum: In Conversation” replaces our usual lecture programme, and instead sees us talking with Friends of the Museum to gain insight on their life, career and connections with Moray and Elgin Museum. Our first episode featured Neil Curtis, Head of Museums and Special Collection at the University of Aberdeen – and who could have guessed at Neil’s secret passion for plumbing? Our next interviewees are John Borland, president of the Pictish Arts Society (and formerly Measured Survey Manager at HES), followed by Craig Stanford, Archaeology and World Heritage Officer at HES (formerly the NTS St Kilda Archaeologist). Subscribe to our YouTube Channel so you don’t miss our next Conversations!

Another first has been hosting our now annual Friends of Elgin Museum Art Exhibition online. The exhibition features photography, oil, acrylic and watercolour paintings, textile art, jewellery and relief prints. All of the items in the exhibition are available to purchase with a percentage of sales donated to both Elgin Museum and the NHS. There’s no denying it has been a huge amount of work (for the artists whose works feature in the exhibition, and for the volunteer who created the online exhibition!), but so far we have sold & shipped pieces to Nottingham, Dublin and Iowa, and it’s great that we’ve managed to reach an even broader audience than usual! The exhibition will continue on into the New Year, so there is still time explore and enjoy the wonderful arts and crafts of our very talented Volunteers and Moray Society Members from the comfort of your own home!

What next for Elgin Museum? Progress with our previous aspirations has slowed down with COVID-19 priorities, but we still aim to attract funding for a major buildings project, incorporating essential repairs with repurposing an empty retail property in our ownership and also to reinstate a manager/curator post. For now, we’ll “keep on keeping on”, as we wait to see how life will change in 2021. We’ll look towards when (and how) it might be possible for us to once again open our doors to visitors. We look forward to rescheduling our programme of events, originally planned as part of the Scottish Government’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 (now rebranded 2020/21) including our cancelled Fossil Finders Weekend and the new Elginerpeton fossil display.

In the meantime, we’ll continue expanding our digital presence with new content, encouraging people to visit Elgin Museum From Home. If you haven’t done so already, please look us up online or on social media (see links below) – and we look forward with anticipation to being able to welcome you in person to Elgin Museum.
Claire Herbert
Elgin Museum Volunteer, Vice-President of The Moray Society
www.elginmuseum.org.uk   
https://twitter.com/ElginMuseum
https://www.facebook.com/ElginMuseumMoray/
https://www.instagram.com/elginmuseum/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqVYIHX1wwQUPOcJdVljb7g

Steps to Sustainability – unlock up to £10k in funding for your museum or heritage organisation

Steps to Sustainability – unlock up to £10k in funding for your museum or heritage organisation

National Lottery Heritage Funded ‘Steps to Sustainability’ programme delivered by the Social Enterprise Academy, is now open for applications (deadline Monday 21st December 9am)

Are you an ambitious, forward thinking, small to medium sized heritage organisation with an income generating idea? Turn it into reality with Steps to Sustainability, the Social Enterprise Academy’s new National Lottery Heritage Funded project. As well as training in key entrepreneurial and commercial skills, the programme will support you and your organisation in developing your income generation project for which you will be eligible to unlock funding of up to £10,000.

If you are working or volunteering in a heritage organisation, anywhere in Scotland with an income generating project idea, then this programme, which starts in February 2021, may be for you. On this 14 month journey, you will learn to look outwards, build stronger partnerships and become more comfortable with the commercial aspects of running a heritage organisation. Learning with a network of peers and sector experts from across the UK, you will turn a new business idea into reality in a supportive and enabling environment.

What to expect:

  • 5 month programme of activities, including additional masterclass, webinars, good practice site visits 
  • 9 month development period with access to coaching / business mentoring 
  • Funding of up to £10,000 to help shape the success of the business idea
  • Resources and toolkits 
  • A supported journey of development with the opportunity to mix with other heritage organisations from across the UK 
  • Participation fee of £50 per person (up to 2 people can attend from each organisation)
  • Starting in February 2021, entirely online

The application process is competitive, with a limited number of places. We will select up to 12 applicants across Scotland who can effectively demonstrate how this programme and the funding will support the ongoing success and sustainability of their organisation. 

More details including FAQ’s, application process and forms can be found at the Social Enterprise Academy website or email stos@socialenterprise.academy with any enquires.

Narrator Wanted!

Narrator Wanted!

Museums and Heritage Highland (MHH) is seeking an experienced narrator to work us on creating an engaging and inspiring audio introduction for the Highland Pictish Trail Audio Tour App – a development within the wider Highland Pictish Trail project, currently nearing completion and supported by The Highland Council, Highlife Highland and MHH.

The Trail covers Pictish stone sites across the Highlands, together with related museum and heritage locations. The narration will cover the welcome to the trail, as well as provide an introduction to a small number (two or three) of suggested itineraries and a short guide to each of the sites along the trail – about 30 in total. The total length of the narration will be around 40-50 minutes.

A script for the narration will be provided, though the person appointed will be encouraged to suggest any changes that they feel will add to overall ambience and effectiveness of the tour.

The person appointed must have prior experience in providing similar narration or voice-over for other applications, and it would be beneficial (although not essential) if he/she can also provide recording and editing functions so as to provide a set of finished recordings that can be used within the app.

The appropriate use of music as a background or as interludes will also be welcomed.

Copyright in the finished product will rest with MHH.

If you are interested in responding, please apply with details of your relevant experience, whether you can offer sound recording/editing as part of your service, and the cost for providing the narration/recording.

Reply to: Nicola Henderson by 1st December 2020
nicola.henderson@museumsandheritagehighland.org.uk

Opportunity – Events and Outreach Coordinator, Gairloch Museum

Opportunity – Events and Outreach Coordinator, Gairloch Museum

Gairloch Museum is inviting museum learning professionals and digital content providers to work with our Curator and volunteers to develop, deliver and market a programme of entertaining, heritage-related digital content and blended learning activities..

Download the full tender here –

Web Developer Wanted!

Web Developer Wanted!

Museums and Heritage Highland are inviting tenders from professional web designers to work with us to develop a dynamic microsite that will present our Textiles Exhibition, titled ‘Highland Threads’.

Highland Threads is a partnership digital and physical exhibition using creative collaborations to develop innovative ways of engaging audiences by bringing together museums from across the Highland region to showcase the stories of Highland fashion through history. 

We want to commission a strong and active web presence for the project that will act as the exhibition portal and home for all the project’s digital content. This virtual exhibition must utilise a realistic, flexible and cost-effective platform for a variety of media content that will give an overall feeling for what the project is about and who it is for – audiences, researchers, makers.

We want this web presence to:

  • Present the costumes in a dynamic, engaging and contemporary style with strong interactivity.
  • Interact with the museum communities
  • Integrate with and strengthen the MHH brand
  • Promote the exhibition collection to a local, national and international audiences – including local people, tourists and history specialists
  • Be interactive, allowing ease of access to the both the main exhibition and the individual items

Please download the full tender here

Spirit of the Highlands – what is it?

Spirit of the Highlands – what is it?

Spirit of the Highlands is an initiative specifically designed to help boost tourism and economic growth throughout the Highland area by promoting its culture and heritage, supported by the Inverness and the Highlands City Region Deal.

One of the project’s aims is to create an ‘Autobiography of the Highlands’, a unique collection of stories held in a digital archive, all told by the people who live, work and visit here. 

This “Spirit:Autobiography / Spiorad: Fèin-eachdraidh” will be an authentic insight into life in the Highlands today, and the heritage that has shaped this unique region, in the words of people from across the Highlands. 

We want to hear stories of communities too, large and small – the local events that shaped it, or how global events have affected it; about its singing sands or Viking graffiti – the things that give it a distinctive fingerprint. All the stories will be available for present and future generations to enjoy in the “Spirit:Autobiography” digital archive. Some of the stories will be used to inspire artists in a series of commissions in the Spirit:360 project, and others will be the foundation of the ‘Spirit of the Highlands in 100 Stories’ exhibition in Inverness Castle when it reopens. 

We’re looking for stories behind the headlines of history, stories about people you might hear at a ceilidh: the uncle who worked on the hydro schemes; the sister that set up the local fèis, the niece that kayaked the Great Glen in record time. 

We live in an extraordinary part of the world, rich in stories that make us laugh, cry or gasp in wonder. Stories that inspire and thrill us, that make us think and imagine, or sing and dance.

Whichever part of the Highlands we live in, these stories and legends reflect who we are and how we lived our lives in the past, how we live them now and how we might live them in the future.

Sharing these stories will encourage people who live here, and visitors, to explore the Highlands and discover more about our extraordinary and unique area. It’s quite a gift to give.  

That’s what the Spirit of the Highlands project, including the transformation of Inverness Castle, aims to do. 

The call for these stories is now live, and people across the world are being invited to share them at www.spiritofthehighlands.com . Find out more through this short video narrated by Julie Fowlis. The closing date for submission of these stories is November 30th 2020. 

You can also follow and share the project through our social media channels Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

WANTED – Interpretive content developer

WANTED – Interpretive content developer

GHM has been awarded a grant from the NLHF’s Heritage Emergency Fund to be completed by the end of January 2021.  The grant is to enable us to re-use existing researched content on elements of our local history collections to create new, inter-related, mini-exhibitions. We want to focus on the key audience of local people. 

The over-arching themes associated with specific objects are 

  • historic places in Rosemarkie and Fortrose  (specific sites in the villages)
  • elements from the 1955 celebration of the 500th anniversary of the creation of the royal burgh of Fortrose & Rosemarkie 

It is proposed that the contractor will engage with a small team of volunteers, or by other means, to identify engaging stories from the detailed background information which will be supplied. The contractor will write texts for use in actual displays, on-line shows for our website, blogs, etc. They will also list any additional imagery or other media that could be gathered or created after the completion of this contract to enhance the productions. 

The contractor is invited to consider the ways in which volunteers and other local people can be actively involved in this work, and should describe their planned approach in their response. This will enable GHM to use the products of this contract as a best practice model that can be replicated by small volunteer teams. 

The key audiences for these varied platforms will be local people and their diaspora, Fortrose secondary school and library users, local history enthusiasts across the Highlands and beyond, and people with a family history relating to the area.

Interested contractors should reply to this brief, indicating how these elements would be delivered, and examples of previously authored content. A budget of £2000 is available for this work, and the main part of the work is to be completed by 31 January 2021.

Please e-mail your response to doug.maclean@groamhouse.org by close of play on 24 October 2020. For further information on the requirements, please contact Jill Harden (jill.harden@groamhouse.org )

It is expected that selection will take place on 26/27 October to enable an early start to the project. Please refer in your response when you would be available to start work.

GAIRLOCH MUSEUM NAMED AS A WINNER OF ART FUND MUSEUM OF THE YEAR 2020

GAIRLOCH MUSEUM NAMED AS A WINNER OF ART FUND MUSEUM OF THE YEAR 2020

Gairloch Museum has been announced as a winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020, the most prestigious museum prize in the world. In a unique edition of the prize and in recognition of the unprecedented challenges that all museums face this year, five winning museums have been named. They will equally share the £200,000 award, a 40% rise over previous years. 

The winning museums are: Aberdeen Art Gallery (Aberdeen, Scotland); Gairloch Museum (Gairloch, Scotland); Science Museum (London, England); South London Gallery (London, England); Towner Eastbourne (Eastbourne, England). They are awarded based on their achievements in 2019 – 20.

Dr Karen Buchanan, Curator of Gairloch Museum commented:-

“The recognition that comes with this award brings our small, independent museum to the national stage.  With the prize money, we will be able to invest in our planned outdoor museum space and procure expertise and equipment to redesign our events and outreach programme for a sustainable, digital future.   We rely on tourism to our small community.  Our Art Fund Museum of the Year status will boost visitor numbers in 2021, when our must-see event will be an exhibition of the art of Alison Dunlop RSW, celebrating the rugged beauty of the Shiants – the enchanted isles of the Minch.”

Today’s announcement kicks off a week-long celebration featuring live-streamed talks, events and digital activity, giving an inspiring opportunity to get involved with museums all over the country. 

The judges, Jago Cooper (Curator of the Americas, The British Museum), Dame Liz Forgan (Trustee, Art Fund), Ryan Gander (artist), Melanie Keen (Director, The Wellcome Collection) and Jenny Waldman (Director, Art Fund), reflected: 

“The story of the rebirth of this truly special museum, nestled on the remote north-westerly coast of Scotland, captivated the judges; a tale of people-power, determination, and local pride. The museum’s move in 2019 to a new home – not a grand new build but a repurposed nuclear bunker – transformed a village eyesore into an important visitor attraction.  It was the culmination of an 8 year, £2.4 million redevelopment project made possible by more than 120 volunteers.  The redisplay of the museum’s collection which encapsulates the history, culture, beauty and character of Gairloch and its new home have reanimated the village’s pride in its heritage, created a buzzing new community hub, and produced a sustainable cultural landmark for generations of visitors to enjoy.”

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, said: “Congratulations to Gairloch Museum. The five Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 winners are exceptional examples of museums offering inspiration, reflection and joy in the heart of communities. The UK’s museums – admired worldwide and vital locally – were thriving before Covid-19. Now they can help rebuild our communities and confidence as we emerge from the virus.” 

Dr Karen Buchanan, Gairloch Museum’s Curator, will reflect on the museum’s achievements as part of a panel discussion at 11am on Tuesday 13 October, featuring all the winners of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020 and Art Fund Director Jenny Waldman. Produced in association with The Art Newspaper and led by art critic and podcast host Ben Luke, registration can be made here https://art-fund.arttickets.org.uk/art-fund/2020-10-13-meet-the-winners-art-fund-museum-of-the-year

As part of the week-long celebration, Gairloch Museum is also holding a three-day archaeological dig at one of the Achtercairn Roundhouses, located just behind the museum (Wednesday October 14th, Thursday October 15thand Friday October 16th). On Thursday October 15th, local researcher, historian and Museum Director Jeremy Fenton will give a talk, describing the changes to and impact on the Gairloch area as transport links improved in the region through time. 

Other highlights of the week include Outlander star Sam Heughan reading a beloved folktale from the West Highlands of Scotland, pertinent to Gairloch Museum’s collection and local histories. Aberdeen Art Gallery will unveil Spotify playlists reflecting the museum’s collection. Towner Eastbourne will hold a daily ‘digital mindfulness retreat’ tapping into the beauty of the museum’s location and collection. South London Gallery will reveal a new poem inspired by Walter Crane’s wooden panel at the Gallery stating, ‘The source of art is in the life of a people’. The Science Museum will release a series of ‘Secret Science Club’ films on Instagram in collaboration with influencer Anna B that will explore the amazing experiments you can see in the museum’s Wonderlab: The Equinox Gallery. Find out more www.artfund.org/museum-of-the-year– add @artfund and #museumoftheyear 

VisitScotland has welcomed the news of the award as a boost to tourism in the North of Scotland.  Chris Taylor, VisitScotland Regional Leadership Director, said: 

“I am thrilled that Gairloch Museum has been chosen as one of only two Scottish winners of Art Fund’s prestigious Museum of the Year award.  I would also like to extend my congratulations to the other Scottish winner, Aberdeen Art Gallery. Both are equally-deserving of this accolade, demonstrating that their work over the previous year has stood out way beyond that of their competitors. 2019 was a transformational year for Gairloch Museum. At the heart of its relocation and reopening has been a huge community effort from a fantastic volunteer base, to successfully secure £2.4 million in funding to redevelop and transform a disused nuclear bunker into such a fantastic new visitor attraction and community hub. For such a small community, this is very inspirational. The Museum has further strengthened the cultural offering for visitors to the Highlands during what has been a hugely challenging year for the tourism industry.”

Wondering what to do with the kids this October? Try a Museum!

Wondering what to do with the kids this October? Try a Museum!

This year’s October holidays are going to be a bit different. The weather is less reliable than in the summer months and in normal times we’d visit more indoor activities – the pool, soft play, theatre, museum. This year many things are not open and therefore choices are pretty limited. And those that are open you may be wary of visiting as the Covid-19 crisis continues or  are worried about what the experience will be like with lots of restrictions in place. As a lover of museums I was keen to get back, but with two young kids I was worried both about how safe we would feel, but also if touching and interacting was off the table, then keeping a 2 year old and 6 year old engaged would be very difficult.

I was wrong and write today to reassure you that a museum visit this October is a great way to entertain your little ones! I visited two museums in September – Gairloch Museum and Highland Folk Museum and was reassured that fun and learning could still be had in a safe way!

Gairloch is a traditional museum – in that it is indoors with a series of rooms telling different stories from history that relate to the Gairloch area. As per Scottish Government guidance all of us over 5 had to wear a mask entering the museum and wash our hands. We were greeted by a volunteer who explained the one way system, provided us with a guide and asked us not to enter a room while another family was there. Now, my 6 year old was happy wearing his mask in the reception area, but as we moved round the museum he got hot and wanted to remove it – I had suspected this would happen and raised it with the museum beforehand. As they were asking for one household only in each gallery we agreed that at ‘pinch points’ like the reception area or going to the toilet we would insist he wore his mask, but when we were in the gallery on our own with no other households we let him remove his. We kept ours on at all times.

Gairloch has also got the balance of what kids (and adults!) can still interact with and what  they can’t exactly right. If it is a delicate, historic object that is difficult to clean then touching is a big no-no (quite rightly), but for their interactives you were provided with wipes and hand santiser to use before and after any touching. This was fantastic. You felt confident that everything was clean and safe, while also ensuring that the museum visit was fun and engaging for your young child. My boys loved it and had such a fab time – we passed an hour, learned a lot and had fun!

Playing on the earthquake maker!

The Highland Folk Museum is an outdoor museum so social distancing and the like are a bit easier. Obviously you still make sure you stay 2m from anyone else visiting and if you go into any of the indoor bits, then please do put on your mask, but aside from that it all felt perfectly normal! You can explore old croft houses, shops, school and tool yards while also burning some energy on a good Highland walk and there is a playpark and picnic benches. So much for adults and kids to both enjoy and it is easy to spend half a day there.

In essence, a day out at a Highland Museum is a great way to entertain the kids this October – no matter their age! Please visit our page on what museums are open to help plan your great day out! https://museumsandheritagehighland.org.uk/highland-museum-re-opening-plans