Curators of a Wester Ross museum have expanded its exhibition “beyond the four walls” of its former-nuclear-bunker by opening a new outdoor gallery.
Gairloch Museum’s new space will give visitors the chance to embrace the area’s rich heritage overlooking the village’s picturesque landscape.
The milestone marks the end of the first phase of the attraction’s vision to engage with new audiences in fresh and innovative ways.
Proposals are also being drawn up for a replica roundhouse to be reconstructed behind the museum, close to the Achtercairn Archaeological Trail, as part of phase two of the project.
Roy Macintyre, chairman of the Gairloch Museum board said they are committed to fully utilising the historic location.
He said: “The museum has a great location, elevated on a raised beach, looking out over the loch. It sits just below a prehistoric settlement and the more recent 19th century road to Poolewe.
“Since moving to our new venue, we have worked hard to ensure we make the most of this superb location – and the opportunities it presents for sharing the stories about the area’s history, geology and people.”
New outdoor museum
Visitors to the new exhibition space will be able to view large rock samples which help illustrate the local geology alongside a number of objects on display, such as a hand crane and tar cauldron (formally located at Gairloch Pier).
Wheelchair accessible paths and a picnic area built from concrete removed during the renovation of the nuclear bunker have been installed, along with interpretation panels that share details of the geology, archaeology and information about the vital role of fishing to the local economy.
The alterations were made possible thanks to funding from the Art Fund Museum of the Year Award in 2020 and many individual donations as well as support from the Postcode Local Trust, the Nineveh Trust, the Wolfson Foundation and the Hugh Fraser Foundation.
Creating a new visitor experience
The award-winning visitor attraction, operated by Gairloch Museum Heritage Trust, was given the royal seal of approval by Princess Anne during their official opening in 2019.
The former cold war bunker was extensively renovated into the two-storey museum which welcomed 10,000 visitors through the doors between July and December in their opening year.
Museum curator Karen Buchanan said they are dedicated in creating a great visitor experience.
She added: “We want to provide as many high-quality opportunities as we can for visitors to engage with Gairloch’s history.
“Although we only moved into our new venue two years ago, we’ve already earned a reputation for innovation and excellence – we intend to continue in our efforts to create great visitor experiences and to share the stories of our local area with as many people in as many ways as we can.”