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Strathnaver Museum on track to achieving goal of creating a world class visitor attraction

By Caroline McMorran

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Strathnaver Museum is slowly amassing the funding it needs to bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and achieve its vision of creating a world class visitor attraction.

The museum, located at Bettyhill, has just secured a grant of £41,178 from Museum Galleries Scotland's Recovery and Resilience Fund.

Strathnaver Museum.
Strathnaver Museum.

This award follows a grant of £113,157 in January from the first round of the fund and also a substantial £650,000 from the National Lottery's Heritage Fund.

The total costs of undertaking essential maintenance repairs and redeveloping the facility has been estimated at £2.08 million and the museum has so far secured £1.66 million.

Plans include a new agricultural annexe and layout to improve the visitor experience along with up-to-date interpretation to tell the history of the artefacts.

It is also hoped to create a new archive in order that the museum can develop a genealogy service.

Museum project manager Fiona Mackenzie said: "The initial award from Museum Galleries Scotland enabled us to take a significant leap forward in our refurbishment project.

"The funding allowed us to undertake key surveys on our historic building and site, submit our building warrant application and firm up costs."

She added: "Since January a lot of activity has been going on behind the scenes as we carefully recorded and packed away the collection ready for physical work to begin on site. All being well with securing the remaining funding, we aim to be in a position to begin work in late summer."

During the archaeological survey work the team found some evidence of Iron Age activity which warranted further investigation. The second round of MGS funding will help towards the costs of a more detailed archaeological survey due to being in June.

Strathnaver Museum chairman Tommy Mackay said: "It’s believed the site has been an ecclesiastical centre for over a thousand years and we are looking forward to seeing what the archaeological dig might uncover.

"It is hoped it will further our knowledge and understanding of the site and perhaps we might even uncover some new objects to add to the collection"

Lucy Casot, chief executive of Museums Galleries Scotland said: “We are pleased to further support Strathnaver Museum in their refurbishment project.

"It is fantastic to see this ambitious project already well under way and the evidence of Iron Age activity in the recent archaeological survey highlights the importance of developing access to this historic site for the local area and visitors.

"We are delighted to be part of the museum’s journey to become a hub for regional heritage and look forward to the project developments over the next few years."

Strathnaver Museum will be closed while the works are ongoing and the group plan to reopen the existing building and new annexe in early 2023.

During the closure the group will have a temporary office and exhibition space in Naver Telecentre, Bettyhill, as well as pop-up exhibitions and events at venues across north west Sutherland.

An information service and gift shop will be operational from the end of May at the Bettyhill Tourist Information Centre beside Clachan Café.

If you would like to contribute to Strathnaver Museum’s refurbishment appeal, click here

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