So very pleased to hear about Glencoe Folk Museum’s redevelopment plans, following on from our previous article. Having been awarded £50,000 by HES and the Pilgrim Trust, these plans include the heather thatch of the museum cottages being replaced next year by Brian Wilson of Wildland Services. They are also looking to run public thatching workshops, create a new exhibition and plan for long term maintenance. We obviously wanted to know more about these exciting developments so asked for some more information. Here’s what they said.
“The Project Plan
As well as the rethatching of the roof, we are planning a large-scale redevelopment of the museum. This will involve
- Building a new reception and exhibition space behind the 19th Century croft cottages,
- Converting their current Byre into a community gallery
- Installing toilets for the first time ever(!) and
- Iimproving the environmental conditions for the collection.
Folk Museum Rethatch
The rethatching of the museum will take place in 2023 while the museum is closed for redevelopment, with public workshops running alongside. The content of these workshops isn’t completely decided yet, but it may involve participants developing traditional skills, taking part in craft activities, attending talks or learning about how to maintain heather thatch. The process will be documented thoroughly and shared both in an exhibition in the new redeveloped museum and online, making the project accessible around the world.
The redevelopment plans will involve the biggest change to the museum since it moved into its current premises in 1972. Changes are needed because:
- The small museum cottages are charming and quaint but can’t accommodate rising visitor numbers and are not fully accessible to wheelchair users or those with mobility issues.
- The buildings are also very cold over winter, so the open season cannot be extended, and the lack of toilets or basic facilities is a deterrent to volunteers and group visits.
- The outdoor spaces also mean that the museum can’t promote itself as a rainy-day attraction, and wet weather can make the buildings damp and humid.
An extension to the back of the cottages will turn Glencoe Folk Museum into a fully indoor attraction. This new building will comprise a reception area (complete with coffee/tea making facilities for staff and volunteers), a larger gift shop, the museum’s first ever toilets and a new, temperature-controlled exhibition space. Peter Drummond Architects have created a subtle design that will be mostly hidden from the street, and so will not change the façade of the cottages. Touches such as a red tin and sedum roof will complement the traditional cottages and heather thatch.
Mather & Co. designers have been working with museum staff to produce exciting displays that will combine the charm of the current museum with purpose-built cases and quirky interpretation.
The Byre – one of the museum’s outbuildings – will be converted into a community gallery, providing a space for local groups to meet, for talks to take place and for community exhibitions/school projects to be displayed.
Redevelopment Planned Schedule
An application has just been submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the delivery phase of the project, and the museum will soon be applying for planning permission and listed building consent. Once funds are secured, the building work can commence in 2023. In the meantime, staff will be planning exhibitions, applying for additional funding, securing donations, recording oral histories with the local community and continuing a successful outreach and engagement programme with local schools.
Visiting the Museum 2022 onwards
The museum is currently open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am to 3pm. It will close for the season at the end of October and, all going well with the Redevelopment Project, will be closed for most if not all of 2023. We currently plan to reopen the Redeveloped Museum in April 2024. You can keep an eye on our blog at www.glencoemuseum.com for updates, or follow us on social media, where both the rethatching and the redevelopment will be documented.
How wonderful to be sharing some great positive news for a change. We look forward to sharing more with you as the project progresses, especially the rethatching…..”