On 29 April we learned that our application to the Radcliffe Trust for conservation work on the collection has passed through the first stage and will be assessed by their Board in June.
On 2 May we were very pleased to hear that Bòrd na Gàidhlig are awarding us £1,000 towards the creation of a Gaelic loan box. We now need to identify a Gaelic expert who is prepared to spend some time creating activities for the box that can accompany the objects and images.
On 2 May (a good day!) we also heard that SSE’s Sustainable Development Fund will be giving us £100,000 towards our redevelopment. This is great news for the project, and also provides a boost for our second-round application to HLF this summer.
Applications were submitted to the Barcapel Foundation and the Sackler Foundation in mid-April.
The Audience Report has now been completed, although can still be updated if more pertinent information arises. If you would like to see a copy, please let me know. Information from the report with ideas about what we can do in the short term to increase and broaden our audiences can be found overleaf. It is essentially a more detailed update of the preliminary report sent out last year. The main aim has been to incorporate and analyse all of our various forms of feedback, so that we just need to go to one place to find out facts and figures. It will form an appendix to both the Interpretation and Activity Plans.
KT and RG are hoping to be able to reschedule the benchmarking trip to Lewis, Harris and Uist, and have tentatively earmarked 8-10 June as a possibility.
There has been some progress with the plan to put a sign at the site of the Mellon Udrigle hut circle. A joint application for funding has been made with Adopt-a-Monument to Paths for All, and has been taken through to the next round.
Some of the paper/laminate labels around the museum are beginning to look a bit tatty. RG will be updating them, section by section, over the next month or so.
RG is hoping to speak to Sheona about the possibility of interviewing one or two of her relatives from Kinlochewe, who have been involved in crofting there for generations. Three more oral history interviews must be carried out before the end of June in order to reach our target of 15 for the Securing the Memories project. Please talk to RG if you have any ideas about who to interview.
The fishing clips have been compiled and can now be played through the shell listening post. Unfortunately the volume is quite low, and trying to increase it is proving a struggle. As a side-effect of this work, just over half of the FLAG fishing oral histories have now been transcribed.
Extract from Report: broadening and increasing our audiences in the short term
It is not practical or desirable to attempt to increase visitor figures considerably until we move into our new building. Until then, we need to consider small initiatives that raise the profile of the museum and bring in more, and broader, audiences. However, audience development is not just about bringing in more people by hosting lots of events – the whole museum experience matters. As such, we must continue to develop our reputation as a place that people want to visit because of the way they are treated, the enjoyable experiences awaiting them and staff and volunteers that make them feel welcome and wanted.
Non-visitors and locals
Our non-visitors are telling us that they need a reason to visit the museum, and need us to remind them that we are here. They may come to the museum if they have visitors themselves, because something has changed or because we are selling something they want to buy. There are a number of ways we can seek to broaden and increase this audience in the short term:
• Make small changes to the permanent displays each year, such as updating the Geology display (done in 2015), adding an audio element to the fishing display (planned for 2016) and so on. However, we need to ensure that we publicise these changes, so that they know there are new reasons to visit.
• Hold temporary exhibitions that are appealing. Local art and photography exhibitions, although they bring in revenue for the museum through sales, are not always particularly popular with our visitors. We need to provide a good mix of history/local history exhibitions, local art and photography displays and work by better known artists. It is also worth looking into borrowing a touring exhibition put together by a larger or national museum.
• Continue to provide free entry Saturdays in April and October. This initiative, begun in October 2015, brought about an increase in admissions of 75% that month. Perhaps more importantly, however, it is also very good publicity for us and generates good will amongst the community.
• Hold more activities for children that are well-received but simple and cheap to host, like the Easter and Hallowe’en trails, so that more local families think of the museum as an entertaining place to bring their children.
• Encourage local families to become members, so that they can return free of charge to enjoy our seasonal family activities.
• Bring the collection into the community more frequently, by advertising our loan boxes to schools and community groups and recommending our reminiscence boxes to residential homes.
• Hold events at different times of day. Some locals, the elderly in particular, prefer afternoon events, whilst those who work prefer evenings.
• Hold events in different locations throughout the Parish – Poolewe, Aultbea, the Overside, Kinlochewe – so we are not just seen as a museum that focusses on Gairloch village.
• Continue to hold events, like the pub quizzes, that will appeal to non-visitors. Other possibilities are film evenings, bingo, music events and anything relating to food and drink.
• Host more events in partnership with other local groups or individuals, to raise our profile, and reach a wider, existing audience.
• Continue to improve the shop, offering more products that are unique to us, and keep publicising it through our usual channels, making it clear that entry to the shop is free of charge.
The schools do not always make very good use of the museum as a resource. This may be because the facilities at the museum are poor and space is inadequate, which makes coming with a large group seem unattractive. However we are able to host school groups, especially in the quieter months, which is something that teachers may need to be reminded of at the start of each year or term.
• We must remind the schools of the loan box topics we can offer, and the volunteers who may be available to demonstrate traditional skills to accompany the Victorian and domestic life boxes. A recent attempt to re-advertise the loan boxes by emailing school secretaries had little impact. Direct communication with the teachers has been more successful. Those contacted seemed to be unaware or had forgotten that the museum could provide such a resource, suggesting that the information sent to the secretaries was not getting through to them, or that the emails were getting overlooked.
• It would be useful to create a list of the subjects and areas that are covered by the museum and archive that overlap with the Curriculum for Excellence. This could then be circulated amongst all relevant teachers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that teachers need to be reminded of what we can offer, especially when they are planning their classes.
• The Gaelic medium and Gaelic language classes are an obvious overlap with our collection, however our Gaelic resources are not particularly easy to lend and are poorly catalogued. In the short term, it would be very worthwhile creating a Gaelic loan box with a variety of activities that could be advertised to the schools and local Gaelic groups.
• It would be worth considering creating a Gaelic trail around the museum, or at least having a Gaelic quiz, so that we have more to offer local and visiting Gaelic groups.
• We know that our facilities are not ideal, and that this is not going to improve in the short term. One way to compensate for this is to make it clear that we allow repeat visits within the same day. We can encourage the reception volunteers to let visitors know that if they want to leave the museum to get a cup of tea or have some lunch, they are welcome to return free of charge that day.
• Adding an audio element to the displays will also appeal to non-local visitors, who sometimes comment on the lack of AV elements in the visitor surveys and also express their desire to hear local accents.
• Events involving music consistently attract high attendance – both those that include local musicians and those bringing in musicians from further afield.
• Hold more outdoor events. In recent years the number of outdoor events held by the museum has fallen off, perhaps because the weather means there is a good chance they will have to be cancelled. However, outdoor events, particularly those related to nature, geology and local history, are requested with some frequency by both visitors and non-visitors. Guided walks would require little planning or personnel to run, so would be easy to achieve in the short term.
• Encourage locals with traditional skills such as net-making or willow-weaving to drop by the museum in good weather to demonstrate their skills in the boat yard. This could make passers-by stop and notice the museum, and then decide to come in and look around.
Rosalyn Goulding (Project Curator)
Gairloch Heritage Museum : Achtercairn • Gairloch • Ross-shire • IV21 2BP • UK
Curator : Dr. Karen Buchanan (Thompson)
tel : 01445 712287
email : email@example.com
Gairloch Heritage Museum is operated by Gairloch & District Heritage Company Ltd which is run by volunteers and is a registered charity no. SC010249