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Gairloch Museum will use prize-money to invest in outdoor space and outreach programme; Hopes high Art Fund Museum of the Year award will translate to visitor number boost for tourist-dependent community as Highland Council congratulates team

By Hector MacKenzie

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Gairloch Museum has been busy since it reopened its doors.
Gairloch Museum has been busy since it reopened its doors.

HIGHLAND Council has congratulated Gairloch Museum on its prestigious award as winner of the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2020.

Cllr Isabelle Campbell, Highland Council vice-convener and Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh representative, said: “This is fantastic news for Gairloch Museum and the local community. I am so proud of what they have achieved over the years transforming the visitor offering in the local area and providing a much-needed all-weather visitor experience that’s tells the story of our local history. Congratulations to everyone involved.”

Highland Council leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson added: “Well done Gairloch Museum, it's great to have some good news that we can all celebrate. I commend and congratulate everyone who has worked with and volunteered with the museum over the many years that has brought it to this level of national achievement. Awards matter very much – whether you are a large or small enterprise – they shine a spotlight on achievement that in turn will hopefully attract more people to visit Gairloch in the future supporting the local tourism economy.”

Cllr Biz Campbell: 'Fantastic news'.
Cllr Biz Campbell: 'Fantastic news'.

The independently-run community museum relocated from its original home to the former Highland Council roads depot which was an historic anti-aircraft operations room constructed during the early years of the Cold War to help defend the country. They now equally share a £200,000 prize award with five museums across the UK.

Dr Karen Buchanan, curator of Gairloch Museum said: “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.”

This week’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.

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 14 to Friday, October 16. Today (Thursday), local researcher, historian and museum director Jeremy Fenton will give an online 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 Wester Ross, pertinent to Gairloch Museum’s collection and local histories.

For further information visit: www.gairlochmuseum.org

Related: Gairloch Museum lands share in biggest prize of its kind in the world

WATCH: Outlander star Sam Heaughan narrates Wester Ross-inspired fairytale animation

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