19 July 2023
On 3 September, Kilmartin Museum will open its doors to reveal its renovation. The newly re-opened museum is set to showcase Argyll and Bute’s rich archaeological history and bring the last 5,000 years of Kilmartin Glen to life
Established in 1997, Kilmartin Museum is one of the key tourist attractions in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, and a museum with a Nationally Significant status.
It is known as the custodian of the archaeological and natural heritage of Kilmartin Glen, one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes with over 800 historic monuments: cairns, standing stones, stone circles and rock art dating back over 5,000 years.
The Museum has been closed for several years, undergoing a major redevelopment which will offer visitors a much larger exhibition space, a creative space which can be used to deliver and participate in cultural activities as well as to stage temporary exhibitions, an accessible research and learning facility and a fit-for-purpose education space.
The re-opening also marks the moment that the recently recognised Nationally Significant Collection of 22,000 prehistoric artefacts, half of the museum’s collection, will be on display for the first time. The prestigious award was given to the collection in 2019 while the museum itself was closed.
The story of life in the Glen over thousands of years will be brought to life through this rich variety of objects juxtaposed with graphic recreations and videos exploring and recreating ways of life in the Glen over the previous 5,000 years.
The museum’s curators will share fresh insights, from the newly discovered techniques used to create one of Britain’s Europe’s largest concentrations of prehistoric rock art to revealing the story of a Neolithic Cursus – and its staggering destruction which involved burning of nearly 400 oak trees at the point where humans started to make their impact on the landscape known.
Two galleries for special exhibitions have been added to the Museum, and locally based artist Lizzie Rose takes the Cursus as the inspiration for her new exhibition Carbon Legacy. Reflecting the need for our collective action against climate crisis, Carbon Legacy will present nearly 400 oak tree seedlings within the museum which will later be planted in a collaborative action, creating a living monument in Kilmartin Glen near the original site of Neolithic Cursus.
The team have two new labs – one wet and one dry in which to care for the artefacts in their collection, as well as new acquisitions, before putting objects on display or in the Museum’s new collection store and for developing the community archaeology programme.
Dr Sharon Webb MBE, Director and Curator at Kilmartin Museum commented: “After so many years of work developing plans, raising funding and building the new museum in really challenging times, its fantastic to see the project complete and the Museum open at last. For me personally, it has been a privilege to have been able to tell the stories of these amazing artefacts and monuments, as well as to have had the opportunity to work with such a dedicated and talented team who have come together to make the dream a reality.”
Visiting Kilmartin Museum
Kilmartin Museum is open from 3 September 2023.
Kilmartin Museum, Kilmartin, Lochgilphead, Argyll,
Scotland, PA31 8RQ; website.
(Images copyright Aaron Watson)