Scots Highlands museum set for £1.4m boost from National Lottery fund

A SCOTS local museum set in the heart of the Highlands is set for a £1.4m boost thanks to investment from a National Lottery fund.

Glencoe Folk Museum has secured the investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to support plans that it hopes will “transform visitor experience” and bring Glencoe’s heritage to life.

The museum was founded by local women in the 1960s and has been largely volunteer-run throughout the following half century.

The collection is displayed in two 19th-century croft cottages with traditional heather-thatched roofs.

(L-R) Morag Watt, Catriona Davidson, Parris Joyce and David Rounce from Glencoe Folk Museum.

One significant change will be that the museum will become a fully-indoor attraction.

Several of the exhibitions are currently housed in outdoor displays that were constructed in the 1970s and are now at the end of their useable life.

These will be replaced by a modern building incorporating a new accessible entrance, a reception and gift shop area, expanded exhibition space, and the museum’s first toilet facilities.

As well as offering better protection for its accredited historic collection, these developments will allow the museum to extend its open season, host group visits and give the community a new wet weather venue.

The museum sits in the village of Glencoe, alongside one of Scotland’s busiest tourist routes.

The redevelopment aims to ensure the museum can make the most of the enormous local tourist market. Projections show an expected rise in visitor numbers from 7,000 to 20,000.

The infamous Massacre of Glencoe is a story known around the world, and it is a story Glencoe Folk Museum will explore through genuine artefacts and an immersive soundscape.

This will sit alongside the personal stories of daily life and work in the area, told through community voices which are currently being gathered as part of an ongoing oral history project.

Glencoe Folk Museum Project Director David Rounce said: “The museum is based in an absolutely stunning setting and reflects the community’s rich social history, telling the people’s stories through their own artefacts and in their own words.

“We’re brimming with potential to inspire our local community and global tourist audiences alike, and thanks to National Lottery players we’ll be able to realise this potential and bring our plans to preserve our beautiful historic cottages to fruition.”

Caroline Clark, the Heritage Fund Director for Scotland, said: “There is a huge amount of passion from the Board of Trustees and support from the community driving this project.

“That is something very special that visitors to the museum will experience. It is about a people telling their story of their place and its history.”

Curator Catriona Davidson added: “Visitors love the charm and quaintness of our little cottages, so our challenge will be to retain this while also creating a space that is accessible to all and suitable to house our amazing collection.

“We’re particularly excited about ‘The Byre’, our new community gallery in a converted outbuilding which will provide a space for research and intimate events and will be a real hub for local heritage with a friendly welcome”.

Celebrating Gaelic culture will also be an integral part of the redevelopment.

Working closely with academics and local Gaels, the museum says it will strengthen its Gaelic content, better representing the local community and making Gaelic heritage and language more accessible to visitors.

David Rounce said: “Included in our project are plans to create a new environmentally-controlled exhibition space, introduce new technology to reduce our carbon footprint, improve the visitor flow and make the museum fully accessible.

“Alongside our physical developments our Learning and Engagement Officer, Parris Joyce, will be continuing to roll out our activity plan for schools and community engagement, which includes a programme of talks, children’s craft activities, historic skills workshops and community-led exhibitions.”

It is anticipated that the museum will close at the end of the 2023 season for construction work, with a grand re-opening to take place in spring 2025.

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