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

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.”

West Highland Museum Review of the Year!

Group of volunteers at clan cameron museum

The West Highland Museum in Fort William is in the heart of the Highlands and is particularly known for its Jacobite Collection and Commando exhibition. 

This year’s newsletter focuses on what the museum has been up to in 2019 and is packed full of interesting information about the museum’s activities.

This includes articles about exciting new acquisitions; loans; existing collections; volunteer activities; local history; visitor events and festivals.

Just two of the highlights of 2019 have been, the long term loan of the Drambuie Collection from William Grant and Son Ltd, and the acquisition of a rare secret portrait Jacobite snuff box.

www.westhighlandmuseum.org.uk

Keep up-to-date with their news and events on Facebook