Timespan nominated for Museum of the Year 2021

Picture of outside of Timespan museum - brown top half and yellow bottom half of building with the letters in yellow of the name (timespan) across the brown wood on the top half

The Timespan gang are beyond delighted and honoured to be shortlisted for this year’s Artfund Museum of the Year award for their programme and work during lockdown. The second Highland Museum (read about Gairloch Museum’s win here) in two years to make the cut for the biggest prize in the Museum world. 

Cultural institutions across the globe proved that culture is needed in the best, and worst, of times, and the Timespan gang responded with their best spirit and kept their community connected, engaged and active throughout with their online Real Rights exhibition telling the history of the parish within the intersecting framework of climate change and colonialism; YASS! Club @ Home where  village kids tackled big ideas in joyous ways in their Friday home-delivered activity packs, from growing their own veg and cooking for the village to making their own stargazing kits and learning about space commons; TYCI saved local teens from boredom with online workshops including investigative journalism and dj and radio broadcast skills; the People’s Mobile Archive kept our elders active and generated amazing new oral histories (shout out to Christine who initiated their mobile lending library) and their quarantine cooking show Recipes For A Disaster taught us how to prepare and make Billy Cowie’s famed lobster salad from local fish shack C Food & Eat (Don’s La Mirage meringues and Ann’s B&B brekkies are top of the list for the coming season).

Timespan Helmsdale Image © Marc Atkins / Art Fund 2021

The Chair of Timespan’s Board, Jean Sargent, says
“ I am absolutely delighted that Timespan has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Art Fund Museum of the Year. We have a very strong team here with an experienced board, an innovative staff and dedicated volunteers who along with our committed funders have all contributed to get us to this position. When lockdown struck, the team were quick to realise the difficulties this would entail and set about finding ways to overcome the physical closure of our museum. They worked alongside Helmsdale’s resilience group to provide enlightenment, entertainment and solace for everyone, young and old, in our community. Also, by digitising our latest exhibition and our museum offering they were able to entice a whole new global audience. Their hard work and commitment certainly deserves this prestigious accolade”.

We wish them luck for the final!

p.s. You can dry your dishes and decorate your walls with their Heritage Manifesto, which is featured on
beautiful new tea towels and posters.100% profits go to United Friends and Family Campaign (UFFC), a coalition of families and friends affected by deaths in UK custody.

Highland Threads…Photographer on the move

Jim Dunn photographing a gansey from Wick Heritage Centre

As part of the Highland Threads project, Museums and Heritage Highland offered each participating museum conservation expertise, professional photography and promotion. Many smaller museums struggle to access these services, so contracting sector professionals to work across the project and individually with each participating museum is affordable and proves excellent value for our members. For this third blog in our series Jim Dunn, professional museum photographer, tells of his travels across the Highlands during a pandemic to capture all the beautiful costumes on camera for the online exhibition.

One of the delights for me working on the Highlands Threads project has been how organised each of the museums I visited have been. The West Highland Museum had even arranged with the traffic warden for me to be allowed to park in the pedestrian area outside the front door of their building, a trivial thing you might think, but when your car is bulging at the seams with all the paraphernalia required to set up a temporary studio for photography and video, small things like that bring a smile to my face. 

Helen Avenell takes credit for arranging all my visits, the constantly changing situation due to Covid meant that access dates had to be moved or cancelled and as I type, we wait with bated breath hoping lockdown will allow us access to one final piece of costume – talk about drama! 

Every visit that could be arranged went very smoothly. I was welcomed by staff or volunteers, safety precautions related to Covid were discussed and implemented where required, I was then shown to a space that in every case was suitable for me to set up my background and lights – perfect!  

Talking of backgrounds, at an early stage of the project it was decided that a black background would be used for all the photography and video. Not a big challenge I thought, lots of light coloured outfits, maybe a couple of military uniforms that might be a bit tricker to light against the black. But no, a few wags thought it might be amusing to make things more interesting for me and give me more of a challenge! “lets look out that funeral dress, yes the ‘black’ one” – “what about a nice pullover, yes the one with the great story, the ‘navy blue’ one… “. 

Photographing a Fisherman’s Gansey at Wick Heritage Centre

But all joking aside I do like a challenge and in the end I was pleased how all the outfits turned out, whether dark or light in tone.  

Another person whose work made my job infinitely easier was conservator Rachael Thomas. I often arrived at a venue a day or two after Rachael to find a beautifully dressed mannequin ready for photography or that could be placed on my turntable for the 360deg videos. 

This has been an interesting project for me, not just the logistics and the disparate venues, but the beautiful costumes and in particular meeting so many dedicated staff and enthusiastic volunteers. 

Launching 1 April 2021, Highland Threads exhibition will be found at www.highlandthreads.co.uk, but until then you keep up to date with progress here (on the MHH site) and across social media using #HighlandThreads.

Our partner museums are: Glencoe MuseumInverness Museum & Art GalleryGairloch Museum, Ullapool MuseumGrantown MuseumWest Highland MuseumHighland Museum of ChildhoodCastlehill Heritage CentreTain through TimeWick Heritage MuseumHighland Folk MuseumGroam House MuseumStrathnaver Museum and Dornoch Historylinks.

Highland Threads…It’s all about collaboration

Highland Museums project meeting on Zoom

Highland Threads was conceived during one of our regular Museums and Heritage Highland Heritage Café Zoom sessions, sometime back in June 2020. Back then, many of our conversations were around practical issues in responding to the Covid pandemic. How were our communities coping, what funding resources were out there… and how might it ever be possible to open our venues again?!

At some point during one of these chats, Dan Cottam, Manager at Grantown Museum, mentioned their costume collection, much of nestled safely away in archive boxes rather than on display. Wouldn’t it be great to work together on a way to showcase some of these amazing costumes? The conversation sparked an energy in everyone at the meeting. This was an opportunity to pause the stressful discussions around PPE, hand sanitisers and reopening toilets and to do what most of us do best… think creatively about our collections and how we can share them with our audiences!

MHH worked really quickly to put a project plan together responding to this creative call to action. This would be a digital exhibition centred around Highland costume, with a focus on finding creative ways to support museums both financially but also with practical outputs like conservation and photography advice that would have a lasting impact. We put a call out to all Highland museums to share their costumes and stories and to join us in a collaborative, co-curated project. Fourteen museums responded, from Castlehill Heritage Centre on the north Caithness coast, to Glencoe in the southern Highlands. 

We were really keen to take our lead from the museum partners and not set any boundaries on the choice of costume, other than it having a story to tell. The idea of having fourteen different museum voices shaping a project might have been seen as a risk, but the Heritage Cafes had already shown the strong collective voice of our Highland museums and their desire to work collaboratively. 

The energy of the project has been amazing. It has brought together the largest and smallest of our museums in an innovative project that showcases some of the most fascinating, intriguing and often previously unknown costume in Highland museums. Although tartan does feature on one object, most of our objects tell stories that audiences might not traditionally associate with the Highlands. Our programme of events and talks will also illuminate some of the hidden stories behind the costume. We hope audiences will be as excited to view the exhibition as we have been to develop it and we look forward to the possibilities of more innovative collaborative work between our Highland museums in the future.

Launching 1 April 2021, Highland Threads exhibition will be found at www.highlandthreads.co.uk, but until then you keep up to date with progress here (on the MHH site) and across social media using #HighlandThreads.

Our partner museums are: Glencoe MuseumInverness Museum & Art GalleryGairloch Museum, Ullapool MuseumGrantown MuseumWest Highland MuseumHighland Museum of ChildhoodCastlehill Heritage CentreTain through TimeWick Heritage MuseumHighland Folk MuseumGroam House MuseumStrathnaver Museum and Dornoch Historylinks.

Introducing…Highland Threads

Introducing…Highland Threads

Highland Threads was conceived at a Highland Heritage Cafe – a regular online meet-up for people working in heritage in the Highlands. We share ideas, discuss issues affecting our sector and find ways to support each other. This support could be as small as recommending a supplier or, like Highland Threads, an ambitious plan for an innovative digital partnership project. 

Unsurprisingly, recent discussions have focused on the effects of COVID-19 on our sector. How can we work together to support museums struggling with the financial implications of temporary closure, furloughed employees and a significant reduction in volunteer contribution? How can museums provide access to collections and generate income while the uncertainty of lockdown and travel restrictions made planning exhibitions and events almost impossible? 

Part of MHH’s remit is supporting museums to employ and develop digital technologies to allow access to collections, increase audiences, and generate income. So, it seemed fitting to nurture an idea using digital tools to address some of the issues our member museums are experiencing.

Through further discussion at the Heritage Cafe, it was agreed that plans for an online exhibition focusing on a costume from each museum’s collection would be developed and funding sought to support the work. 

A successful bid by Museums and Heritage Highlands to the National Lottery Heritage Fund Resilience Fund provided a green light and Highland Threads was go!

Our collective vision for the project is to use collections to support museums in these difficult times. Driving new and existing audiences to our museums whether they are open or closed; help museums find new ways of creating income streams; and open up access to collections in a manageable, sustainable and engaging way.

By employing innovative digital technologies and contracting sector professionals to produce an exceptional product, Highland Threads reflects the quality museums and diverse collections found across the Highlands. 

Launching 1 April 2021, Highland Threads exhibition will be found at www.highlandthreads.co.uk, but until then you keep up to date with progress here (on the MHH site) and across social media using #HighlandThreads.

Our partner museums are: Glencoe Museum, Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, Gairloch Museum, Ullapool Museum, Grantown Museum, West Highland Museum, Highland Museum of Childhood, Castlehill Heritage Centre, Tain through Time, Wick Heritage Museum, Highland Folk Museum, Groam House Museum, Strathnaver Museum and Dornoch Historylinks.

Opportunity – Events and Outreach Coordinator, Gairloch Museum

Gairloch museum exterior

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 –

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

 

Exploring Lost Inverlael with Ullapool Museum

map of the Inverlael area

Museum Mangaer, Siobhan Beatson, tells all about this exciting new project that launched just before lockdown and is slowly building up steam.

Lost Inverlael: Finding Balblair is potentially one of the biggest projects Ullapool Museum has undertaken that did not require rebuilding walls or emptying the museum. It will certainly be the longest running project and in my opinion the most exciting. The involvement of archaeological activities combined with in depth research of the townships of Inverlael and Balblair and its people will bring the community together in a single mission to reignite local memory of the area and the lives of its inhabitants.

 There are several adjacent projects which include a cultural development of music and art, a recreation of the landscape and townships in Minecraft and a full digital interactive exhibit that will take a permanent place in the museum. The combination of the last two show how Ullapool Museum is stepping into the modern world and taking on new challenges to accent our engagement with the local community and our visitors which will hopefully develop an emotional connection to the project. With this blog we hope to involve our community and interested parties in the genus of the project, more recent events and how we plan to take the next steps.

The idea of exploring the history of Inverlael and Balblair was brought to us last summer by our now famous local historian Duncan MacKenzie, whose family had strong ties to the area. He had been brought up on stories of the Clearance of 1819/20 by Sir George Steuart MacKenzie of Coul. The folk tales of tenants being turfed out of their houses and having to set up a makeshift camp outside of Clachan church intrigued him to pursue the real story of the townships. He has spent many years playing detective and had conducted a significant amount of research on the land and in various archives. On the discovery of Land Tax records from the early modern period, he discovered that Balblair was valued considerably more than other townships in Lochbroom. This led to the educated assumption that Balblair, a township that had been all but forgotten even in the local community, had something significant to offer and was more notable than previously believed. A comment in some research read that Balblair was the largest township north of Dingwall. When all this evidence was presented to us we were all in agreement that we had stumbled upon an intriguing and previously lost story. We were eager to follow this up and Lost Inverlael: Finding Balblair was born.

In January we received confirmation of funding from Historic Environment Scotland, which gave us the green light for the project. In the early weeks of Lock Down we appointed the Archaeology team for the project. Highland Archaeological Services provided the best answers and foresight and we were thrilled to be able to offer a local company the opportunity to work with us. We also appointed Immersive Minds to the project who will conduct the recreation of the landscape and heritage in Minecraft (a block building computer game). We are very excited about this as it is something very different and gives us an opportunity to work with the local school children, and give them an opportunity to build parts of the landscape while learning about this history, culture and heritage through a very modern and familiar medium. The Crafting the Past website is available to look at which already has the preliminary landscape features. In June we were approached by Interface a consultation company who pair up digital projects with Universities to work in partnership. This has meant that we can look forward to developing an interactive museum display, which will be able to give our visitors all the details of the project in a user-friendly manner, with interactive maps, stories from the people who lived there, potential archaeology finds can be analysed and much more. The possibilities with this type of tech are endless and we hope to pioneer this use of technology for museums in the highlands.

The last couple of months have seen the start of the research programme of the project begin to take shape. Myself and our Reception and Admin assistant Arran MacDonald have started the groundwork for the more detailed research that will come later on. We have managed to collate a basic list of names in Family groups or individuals from the two eviction notices of 1819 and 1820. This gives us a good foundation on which to work on. Some interesting facts have emerged from this record, including the name of Lady Katherine MacKenzie (Ramsay) of Coul, who was the mother of Sir George Steuart MacKenzie. She is stated as the land owner in the eviction records, which we believe were left to her after her late husbands death to contribute to her upkeep. Further research into this is being conducted, including trying to find General Sir Alexander MacKenzie of Coul’s Last Will and Testament, which would confirm this theory.

We are excited to begin the project properly and we are working towards planning the community workshops for the winter period. This will involve bringing the whole team together including the schools and the archaeologists to develop a programme of workshops to inform the community of the details of the project and to involve them in various aspects of research, information gathering and potential volunteering opportunities. We hope to reach all aspects of the community from the youngest to the oldest and include all abilities and knowledge levels. 

While 2020 has had a shaky start, we hope that Lost Inverlael: Finding Balblair will bring a new enthusiasm and vigour to the end of the year. Which can take us into 2021 with a renewed outlook and endless possibilities.

Follow the project on their website – https://ullapoolmuseum.co.uk/elementor-1498/

Historylinks – the journey to reopening and beyond!

Historylinks – the journey to reopening and beyond!

When COVID-19 struck, Historylinks Museum was already in the process of preparing to open for the 2020 season. All was suddenly on hold and our Curator and Museum Assistant worked from home before eventually being put on Furlough. During this time the Trustees and Museum Committee began the task of altering the way the museum worked in terms of its digital output. It felt really important to make sure that the local community and potential visitors still had access to the heritage, but in a different way. Funding was granted from MGS to update and enhance our popular Image Archive and make it even more user friendly and accessible. It also enabled us to set up an online ticketing service and pre booked museum tours via our website for when we eventually reopened. We managed to engage more people with our Facebook Page. The local community have been very active in commenting on posts and sharing memories jogged by the images. It has also been possible to set up a digital platform that has enabled us to share film clips from our Archive easily. 

By the beginning of July, it was clear that the Scottish Government was going to allow museums to reopen and so it was time for the Historylinks team to make a decision. To reopen or stay closed? It was not a decision that was taken lightly, but consultation with staff and volunteers revealed that everyone wanted to take steps to open the doors of the Museum once again. A few volunteers have not able to return for the time being because they are still shielding but all were supportive of the plan to reopen. Museum staff were back at work on the 8th July and working towards a reopening date of 18th July.

Another grant from MGS allowed us to buy the appropriate equipment such as PPE, hand sanitiser and other items we needed in order to reopen safely.

The staff and committee members then worked together to create as safe a space as possible in order to welcome back visitors. The first thing in place was a Perspex screen at reception and adequate PPE for all staff and volunteers.

With all this in mind we created our ‘7 steps to safety’. The steps are displayed outside the building and again in reception so that people can read and take in the information before entering the museum. A short film about what to expect in terms of safety measures when visiting will be up on our website soon.

One of the most important points in the 7 steps is the requirement for visitors to wear a face covering and sanitise their hands on entering the building. We have automatic hand sanitiser stations on entry and around the building with paper towels and bin provided.

The reception and retail area here at Historylinks can form a bottleneck for visitors because as well as the way in, it is the way out! The answer to this problem is a traffic light system on entry. This means that our staff and volunteers are in complete control of the flow of visitors. They are able to work the traffic lights remotely from the counter to allow only one party of people at reception at a time. This takes the pressure off the volunteer and allows them time to record track and trace details, fill in Gift Aid forms and explain the one-way system around the museum.

Some things have had to change more significantly. We decided to implement a ‘no touch’ policy around the building in order to minimise any cross infection. Our interactive displays were removed and the children’s toys put away into storage. The addition of polite reminders not to touch the glass cases or exhibits ensures that people are aware of our policy as they walk around.

Having to close the children’s room was sad for us as we love having youngsters in the museum. So, instead of toys in the children’s room they have a fantastic animated film to watch made by local children about Dornoch’s mythical fairy bridge ‘The Gizzen Brigs’. In addition to this, they can see the amazing masks created by our Young Curator’s for their Halloween walk last October. Plus, they can enjoy our story labyrinth in the grounds of the museum.

The addition of a new outdoor exhibition called ‘Domestic Life’ featuring objects from the 19th and early 20th Centuries means that we have enhanced our exterior displays, giving visitors even more to enjoy outside.

Despite the restrictions in the museum we have gone ahead with our new exhibition of Katherine Gray’s dress from 1710 and the display of our East Sutherland Longhouse project featuring a scale model of a pre-clearance settlement. 

Since reopening we have had a steady stream of visitors. Everyone so far has been compliant with our new rules. Occasionally we might have to prompt someone to use the hand sanitiser on entry but this has not caused a problem. Numbers are running at about 60% of the same time last year.  

Visitors have commented that they feel the museum is well organised and volunteers have said that they feel safe with the new safety measures in place. The most difficult thing is having to turn people away when we are at capacity. Especially if it is raining! We do try to encourage people to come back and can generally estimate when we will have room for them.

We do keep a stock of disposable facemasks for people who have lost for forgotten to bring their own.

The main thing we have learned is not to rush entry to the museum. People are always eager to get into the museum but we do have to take quite a lot of information, especially if visitors are Gift Aiding their entrance fee. Taking time to make sure that all the information is accurate is imperative for track and trace and our traffic light system has been very valuable in allowing that to happen.

Our opening times have changed slightly to 10.30am – 4pm but we are still open 7 days a week.

www.historylinks.org.uk

www.historylinksarchive.org.uk 

Highland Museum Re-opening Plans

Highland Museum Re-opening Plans

Planning a trip to the Highlands and wondering if your favourite museum is open? Here is a comprehensive list that will let you know what their plans are, ways you can support them from afar and/or how to contact them to find out more. You can also check our map page to find out where they are – https://museumsandheritagehighland.org.uk/map

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**MUSEUMS THAT ARE OPEN NOW OR OPENING SOON**

Glencoe Museum

Museum of the Isles, Armadale Castle, Skye

  • NOW OPEN (reopened 6th August)
  • Until 18 October the museum will be open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 to 4pm.
  • Entry to the museum will be via timed ticket, purchased at the main ticket office. A one way system has been introduced with floor markers to maintain social distancing and hand sanitiser/handwashing facilities are available at entrance and exit. They are encouraging visitors to wear face coverings and are collecting visitor details to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect service as per Scottish Government guidance. Face coverings are required in our shop areas.
  • Audio guides will not be available at this time and the library is currently closed
  • All details and any changes to the above info will updated via our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Gairloch Museum

Ullapool Museum

  • NOW OPEN (reopened 1st August)
  • Opening Times will be – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday, 11-4, Saturday 10-5.
  • Customer details will be taken; 10 people Max inside the museum at one time; Masks to be Worn; One way system; Films shown on the hour; New Outdoor History Treasure Trail (both Adults and Children)
  • Can’t visit this year? Donate! Ullapool Museum Giving Fund – paypal.com/gb/fundraiser/charity/3920689
  • Website www.ullapoolmuseum.co.uk
  • You Tube https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ullapool+museum
  • Social media links – facebook, @ullapoolmuseum | instagram, @ullapoolmuseum | Twitter, @Ullapoolmuseum | TikTok, @Ullapoolmuseum

Historylinks, Dornoch

  • NOW OPEN! (did so, on 18th July)
  • Open 7 days a week from 10.30am to 4pm. 
  • Visitors can just pay at reception or prepay online via their website or book exclusive use of the museum after hours for £30 for a group of up to 8 people. www.historylinks.org.uk
  • They have a traffic light system in place and a limit to 10 people in the museum at a time. All visitors are asked to wear a face covering if their health permits and to sanitise their hands on entry. There is also a sanitising station half way around the museum. There is a one way system in place and people are asked not to touch anything.
  • They have some new exhibits including an outdoor display of domestic object from the late 19th, early 20th century, an 18th Century dress and a display about their latest community project funded by HLF of a preclearance site at Dalnamain, Dornoch. The display features a scale model of the settlement c1800 made by a Historylinks volunteer and the Young Curators.
  • Their Young Curators have also created an exhibition of masks that they made for a Halloween walk last year. Each mask depicts a character from Dornoch’s history and they have written the interpretation in their own words.
  • They also have 4 films for visitors to watch and a brand new children’s quiz.
  • Keep up to speed via their websites and facebook, www.historylinks.org.uk or www.historylinksarchive.org.uk or https://www.facebook.com/HistorylinksMuseum/

Tain District Museum and Clan Ross Centre

Tarbat Discovery Centre, Portmahomack

NOW OPEN for pre-booked visits – to book a slot and find out more about your visit, go to their website – https://www.tarbat-discovery.co.uk/visitor-information You can also make a donation to support them there if you can’t visit this year.

West Highland Museum, Fort William

  • Opening Friday 4th September
  • Open: Tuesday to Friday 10am to 2pm
  • To book, please email: info@westhighlandmuseum.org.uk or telephone: 01397 702169 or 07985 251335 between 9am and 4pm (Monday – Friday)
  • Require face coverings, following of a one way system, no-touch policy, and will be taking customer details 
  • If you can’t visit this year, you can still support them: Website has a donations button, see below.
  • Follow their FB page to find out more about their digital projects and their Jacobite digital heritage trail.
  • http://www.westhighlandmuseum.org.uk/
  • https://www.facebook.com/WestHighlandMuseum/
  • Twitter: @WestHighMuseum

Timespan, Helmsdale

  • NOW Open
  • Open Monday – Sunday 10zm – 5pm
  • Please note, the museum and cafe capacity have been reduced, to ensure social distancing. You can book your slot in advance by contacting them on 01431 821327 | enquiries@timespan.org.uk
  • Please see our new reopening visitor guidelines to keep you covid-Secure and their community, staff and team safe.
  • Their latest online exhibition Real Rights explores land use and ownership, colonial history and climate change in the Iron Age, during the Highland Clearances and at the height of the herring fishing boom at Helmsdale.

Cromarty Courthouse Museum

  • Open on Saturdays and Sundays during August and September from 12am until 4pm. Admission is free.
  • Staff and volunteers will be on hand to advise you on your route through the Courthouse and they will ask all visitors to use the hand sanitiser provided, wear a suitable face covering and maintain social distancing. 
  • More details on their website – http://www.cromarty-courthouse.org.uk/ or Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CromartyCourthouseMuseum/ 

Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie

  • NOW OPEN
  • Opening times: Thursday to Sunday from 1:30 – 4.15pm
  • Booking is essential, only 1 group in at a time,  maximum of 6 people in the group,  half an hour slots. You can book online at their website, www.groamhouse.org.uk or by phone at 07799 663984. 
  • Face coverings will be required.  Guided tour will be offered.
  • Even if you can’t visit this year, you can still engage in their work and support the museum. Ways to donate and see the work they are doing can be found on their website.
  • Their exhibition this year is ‘Book of Kells; Mysteries Revealed’ which is being put together in conjunction with Thomas Keyes.  
  • Web site: www.groamhouse.org.uk Facebook: GroamHouse Twitter: Twitter @ Groamhouse

Highland Museum of Childhood, Strathpeffer

NOW OPEN. times vary and booking is preferred so please call 01997 421031 or e-mail info@highlandmuseumofchildhood.org.uk when planning your visit. Also check their website. highlandmuseumofchildhood.org.uk 

Highland Folk Museum, Newtonmore

  • NOW OPEN ( opened 29th July)
  • Opening times – Wed – Sunday 10.30 – 4
  • Booking system to be made public on Monday 27th – https://www.highlifehighland.com/highlandfolkmuseum/
  • Face coverings required in the toilets and shop
  • Donations link on booking system and on website

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

The Highlanders Museum, Fort George

Will be reopening on 11th September! More details to follow. Check their facebook page for updates – https://www.facebook.com/thehighlandersmuseum 

Mallaig Heritage Centre

NOW OPEN!
Follow them on facebook https://www.facebook.com/mallaigheritage/
Visit the website for latest info http://www.mallaigheritage.org.uk/

NTS sites including Culloden Battlefield

  • Culloden is NOW OPEN (reopened 1st August)
  • They will be open 10 to 4 Wednesday – Sunday and are asking people to book online to come into the exhibition.  https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/culloden/events
  • Brodie Castle, Inverewe gardens, Glencoe and Glenfinnan will be opening shortly. Check back for more details.
  • Abertaff House and Hugh Miller’s Cottage are staying closed for now

Russian Arctic Convoy Museum, Loch Ewe

  • Opening on a limited basis from Wednesday 12th August, Wednesday’s through to Saturday, until 31st October, 2020.
  • All visitors should pre-book a visit slot. Please contact the museum on 01445 731 137 or via e-mail at exhibition@theracmproject.org giving your name, phone no. & size of party.
  • Visits are limited to a maximum period of 1½ hours, beginning at either 10.00, 12.00 or 14.00
  • Entry fees remain the same as 2019 (adults £4, 12 to 18 £3). Payment preferably by contactless. Due to the closure since April, and the additional costs incurred in now opening with COVID-19 measures in place, any donations will be gratefully received.
  • Social distancing should be adhered to at all times during your visit. Face masks will be mandatory throughout the visit. If you do not have your own mask these will be available at reception at cost price. Please use the hand sanitizer provided at time of entry and during the visit.
  • Visit the website here – https://racmp.co.uk/

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**MUSEUMS STAYING CLOSED OR STILL DECIDING**

Nairn Museum

  • Staying Closed for the season
  • Currently working on a project titled – ‘Retail Therapy: Shops and Businesses in the Historic Market Town of Nairn’ which will involve a mixture of volunteers and locals. The aim is to gather memories, stories and photographs of Nairn shops and businesses to add to their archive, and they hope to have an exhibition on this next season.
  • Video tours of their exhibition spaces and current exhibition ‘A Woman’s Place: Prominent Women from the History of Nairn’ are being worked on and will be posted on social media.
  • Facebook link : https://www.facebook.com
  • Website link is: http://www.nairnmuseum.co.uk/ and you can also DONATE via the website to show your support!

Glenfinnan Station Museum – Not sure of plans yet. Call ahead – 01397 722295

Strathnaver Museum, Bettyhill

Are not reopening this season. You can still support them and engage with their work by visiting their website – www.strathnavermuseum.org.uk 

Wick Heritage Museum

Laidhay Croft Museum – Not opening – visit their website http://laidhay.co.uk/

Dunbeath Heritage Museum – Not currently open – follow their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/DunbeathHM/

Brora Heritage Centre – Not sure of plans. Check their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/broraheritage/ 

Invergordon Museum – Are not opening this season – keep up to date on their news via their website http://www.invergordonmuseum.co.uk/

Grantown Museum – are still deciding. Check their website https://www.grantownmuseum.co.uk/

Elgin Museum

Re-opening Gairloch Museum – A familiar journey

Re-opening Gairloch Museum – A familiar journey

Almost exactly one year ago, staff and volunteers at Gairloch Museum were putting the final touches to their new museum before its official opening. Scroll forward a year and the picture is a similar one.  After a very successful first nine months, during which it welcomed more than 10,000 visitors, the museum was forced to close for almost four months due to coronavirus.  Staff were furloughed and only returned to work at the beginning of July, after the Scottish Government announced its accelerated timetable for restarting tourism.  Since then it has been all hands on deck to get the museum open.  It has taken three weeks but we are almost there.

The first stage of the process was to set up a task force for reopening.  This has been led by Curator Karen Buchanan and includes front of house staff and volunteers with responsibility for retail and maintenance.  A risk assessment identified that the museum could reopen subject to some changes, the majority of which were in the areas of ticketing and cleaning.  It was also necessary to review display areas taking into consideration the risk of spreading Covid-19 through touch.

In order to reduce contact between visitors, it was decided to assign groups of visitors (e.g. families or couples) to slots and to introduce a one-way system for their circulation.  The display areas can accommodate a maximum of one group in each of the five galleries at any one time.  Using this system, groups should not come into contact with one another other than at pinch points such as the entrance and staircase.  Here barriers and passing places have been used to separate two directional traffic.  Consideration was also given to how to ensure only one group is using the toilet and shop at a time.

It was decided to use the Art Fund’s ‘Art Tickets’ booking facility for advance booking of slots.  This option was chosen as it is free for museums to use, and was a system we had already considered being involved with.  Art Fund have been overwhelmed with new users of Art Tickets, but have done a fantastic job getting us onto the system quickly and signing us up for training webinars.  As we open, we will be taking telephone and email bookings, but hope to transition soon to Art Tickets when we are more confident in using it. We will try to accommodate those who have not pre-booked and turn up on spec and they will need to supply the details required for Test and Protect.  From 9-10am we will only allow 2 groups in and reserve these slots for members and vulnerable people.

We have gone for a two prong approach as regards touching objects. We have signed just about everything.  Either it is OK to touch a display (this applies to interactives), or it is not (e.g. open display objects).  We have made it clear that touching interactives is at visitors’ own risk, and provided sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer and bins next to them.  We feel that the signage we have used is user friendly and well designed in communicating the rationale to the visitors.  In one area where there are a lot of open display objects, barriers have been placed in front of the displays and new labels attached to the barriers.

We will not be able to allow visitors to use the film theatre in the museum. This is a great shame, as our film is so popular.  But it is 25 minutes long and the room it is shown in is poorly ventilated.  We have obtained permission from the film maker to publish clips from the film on Vimeo and we aim to do this, though it is unlikely to be achieved before we reopen.  We will also produce a large poster to go into the doorway of the film theatre that will advertise the film and have QR codes linking to the Vimeo clips.  We have also considered using QR clips to link to an area on our website which would house the sound clips from our listening posts.  This will take longer to produce and we will work on it once we are open.

Quite a few of our front of house volunteers have chosen not to return to help out at the museum for the time being.  However, we have managed to get enough volunteers to open 4 days a week 9-5.  In fact, it has been a good opportunity to recruit and train new volunteers.  We will have one volunteer on the desk and one upstairs stewarding groups.  Our FOH supervisor will meet and greet.  

One of the significant hurdles to reopening was getting hold of the materials we needed such as barriers and hand sanitiser dispensers.  We eventually got the latter after about a 4 week wait but one of our volunteers eventually had to go to Inverness to pick it up.  Barriers could not be obtained in time so they have been borrowed from a local contractor in the meantime.  We have installed a wall mounted or free standing hand sanitiser in every gallery, at the entrance, in the stairwell and outside the toilets. We have also placed one on the way into the shop and are grappling with instructions to visitors on touching shop produce.

It has been time consuming producing the information that we need to get out to visitors in its various formats and for different distribution channels.  We have had to change our opening hours on all the platforms that people use (e.g. Google Business, Visit Scotland etc.) as well as our own website.  We have dedicated a special page on our website to provide advance information for visitors and have also tried to get this out through social media.  We managed to recruit a volunteer to produce a film for us to guide visitors through the new systems in the museum.  This required storyboarding and recruiting people to take part in the film.  

With hopefully everything in place now, we are looking forward to reopening and to seeing how visitors behave in the museum under these changed circumstances.  We are well aware that we need to be flexible and respond to visitor feedback.  We will use our museum stewards to assess the effectiveness of the measures we have put in place and to feed back to us.  Wish us luck!

Find out about opening times and how to book here – https://www.gairlochmuseum.org/