Small Scottish museum receives major Museums Association award

Rising from the ashes of a devastating fire, The Scottish Crannog Centre on Loch Tay has defiantly won a prestigious national museum award. “We’ve had brilliant support from partners to make this happen, so a big thank you to all and a big well done to everyone within the Crannog community,” reflected managing director Mike Benson.

Earlier this month, the Museums Association named the centre as the Best Small Museum Project 2021 as part of the Museums Change Lives Awards. ‘They Might Be Giants’, the centre’s pilot project recognised by the award, encourages young people to engage with local heritage while fostering key vocational skills. Only museums with an annual revenue of less than £320,000 are eligible for the award.

We are so proud to have won this award, our team and the apprentices have worked incredibly hard on this project,” remarked Rachel Backshall, community archaeologist and MA assessor.

Five apprentices worked with the centre’s team over the pandemic to deliver tours, produce interpretation, and complete units towards an accredited Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ). Apprentices also had the opportunity to present to over 100 museum and heritage officials about why museums need young people.

We have a real opportunity to offer a qualification that will keep young people invested in the area and their own career,” explained Backshall. “It also benefits the heritage sector; encouraging it to be active and uphold social justice, diverse and inclusive, and challenge the status quo for who can access, work at, and change museums.

The centre is a living history museum where visitors can enjoy guided tours around replica Iron Age dwellings. In June, the centre’s replica Iron Age house that stood on the loch, known as a crannog, was destroyed in a fire. Locals swiftly rallied together to organise a fundraiser, which raised a whopping £50,000 and a further £30,000 was given to the popular attraction in the form of other donations.

Speaking to Art Law & More, apprentice Georgia Holmes said that “it was an honour to win the award especially after the difficult year we’ve had with Covid and then the fire. This has shown how resilient our team is, as we always focus on the bigger picture and work together as a community.”

“Since working at the crannog I have gained so much confidence, communication skills, management skills and much more,” added Holmes. “The crannog is a fantastic place to work with so many unique experiences.”

Plans were announced in the summer to build an expanded museum on the opposite side of the loch. Three new crannogs will be built within a replica Iron Age village along the shoreline, which will include a woodman’s yard, artists’ hub, performance spaces, café and gift shop. It seems their recent accolade from the Museums Association is but the first page of The Crannog’s exciting, new chapter.

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