Kilmartin Museum is now the home of Scotland’s 50th Recognised Collection of National Significance.
This prestigious award, run by Museums Galleries Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government, has recognised the Museum’s Prehistoric Collection. This remarkable group of 11,623 rare and fragile artefacts offers a unique insight into the lives of people who lived on the west coast of Scotland between three and twelve thousand years ago.
Dr Sharon Webb MBE, the Curator and Director of Kilmartin Museum, says: “We are thrilled that Kilmartin Museum has received recognition for its Prehistoric Collection. The artefacts are well worthy of this status, and it is a great achievement for the whole organisation that we have been successful.”
The preparation of the application was made possible through funding from LEADER and the Kilfinan Trust.
National Significance is recognised by a committee of independent experts when a collection is of national statue, and therefore central to the life and culture of Scotland. Kilmartin Museum’s Prehistoric Collection features highly crafted stone tools made by hunter-gatherers, beautifully decorated pottery made by Neolithic and Bronze Age farmers, and ceremonial metalwork.
“The Prehistoric Collection is a testimony to the emergence of sophisticated and creative communities, including some of Scotland’s earliest farmers and metal users,” says Dr Webb. “These well-connected and highly skilled people built the impressive burial cairns and standing stones for which Kilmartin Glen is famous.”
Since opening in 1997, Kilmartin Museum has been awarded archaeological finds from across Argyll through the Scottish Treasure Trove process. These collections have since outgrown its storage facilities, and there is insufficient space to display the Prehistoric Collection. To resolve this, the Museum has now embarked upon a circa £7 million redevelopment project supported by a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and match funded by Argyll and Bute Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Museums Galleries Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Historic Scotland Foundation, the Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Kilfinan Trust, the Schroder Foundation, the Robertson Trust, the Wolfson Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, the Righ Foundation and many other smaller trusts, foundations and private individuals.
“Kilmartin Museum is soon to be transformed into a state-of-the-art visitor attraction and centre for archaeological engagement and learning,” says Dr Webb. “We are deeply honoured that our new galleries will open in 2022 with a Nationally Significant collection as their centrepiece.”
Dr Katie Stevenson, Chair of the Recognition Committee, says: “Set in the context of its landscape, the Prehistoric Collection at Kilmartin Museum is a remarkable jewel in the crown of Scottish local museum collections. As the 50th Nationally Significant Collection the Museum highlights the diverse range of objects that are in the care of Scotland’s museums and the significance of them to understanding Scotland’s history.”