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Restoring a unique piece of Scottish history

Strathnaver Museum

Strathnaver Museum16


Strathnaver Museum


Bettyhill, Sutherland



Breathing life back into this historically significant museum campus through its rationalisation and restoration has been a labour of love for the design team and surrounding community.

The background

Situated on the north coast of Scotland, Strathnaver museum is housed in the former parish church of Farr, a listed building and site of the delivery of the clearances notices. The museum opened in 1976 and portrays the tragic story of the Highland Clearances.

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The design approach

Our masterplan for the museum campus included the rationalisation and restoration of the existing building and the addition of a new annex to the east of the graveyard.

A somewhat radical intervention to form a new bridge link from the east to the west wings of the existing building allows a circular exhibition route and provides, for the first time since the 1880’s, an elevated view of the original pulpit from which the clearance notices were delivered. Glass balustrading and floor planks create a contemporary and lightweight structure.

The new annex houses outsize exhibits and explores the agricultural story of the area. Improvements made to the internal layout of the church increase visitor movement and have opened up access to the collection, with a dedicated research space created in the conservation room. 

Everyone that visits is so complimentary of the museum and how sympathetically it's been refurbished and brought up to professional museum standard. Quite often they are surprised to find something of such quality in such a 'remote' area.

Fiona Mackenzie

Strathnaver Museum

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The impact

Given its remote location, the new museum campus is a welcome attraction to visitors following the North Coast 500 route, as well as a valuable addition to the community. 

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It will be a source of inspiration and pride for future generations. It's clear to see what can be achieved when people come together with a shared vision.

Dr Fiona McLean

National Lottery Heritage Fund


Ewan Wetherspoon

Catriona Hill Partner Civic Community Arts lead North lead

If you want to know more about our work in this sector, contact Catriona our sector lead.

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