Usually when I contribute blog posts for the good people at The Fed, I’m writing them from my office desk in the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland offices, where the project I work on, ScARF, is housed. Not so today, as I am in Mintlaw, some 30 miles north of Aberdeen in the vast, arable farming lands of Buchan. Mintlaw is also home to Aberdeenshire Council museums service HQ, where I was greeted this morning after a long drive a with a cup of tea and open floor to talk ideas and ongoing work (thanks for that cuppa, Fiona!). The clue is in the name, but an important bit of partnership working is spending time with said partners – working at distance via emails and phonecalls can only go so far before you need face-to-face dialogue (and chances to see the collections and material upclose).
After a busy morning brainstorming and catching-up with the team, I took to the road again to visit Portsoy Salmon Bothy, an hour north of Mintlaw, on the Moray Firth coast. The Salmon Bothy was built in 1834 as a Salmon House, and is now restored with exhibits and displays telling of Portsoy’s history as an important trading port for the region and of the working lives of the folk from the immediate area. This was my first visit to the Salmon Bothy, though I had been itching to go for a while. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a great combination of interesting artefacts, social and working history and a really atmospheric building.
Visiting independent museums like this, and speaking with the staff and volunteers, is a great reminder for me of the important role the myriad different kinds of organisations in our sector play. It’s never just about national museums, nor local authority ones, but about the whole picture and the people behind the scenes making it happen. No-one truly works in isolation, and the museums reflect that, despite the differences in scale and subject focus. We (ScARF) are working hard on the beginning of a research framework looking exclusively at farming and fishing in our partnership regions; being able to highlight the excellent collections held in museums across the regions will only strengthen it.
With thanks to Anne and the other kind volunteers at Portsoy who took time out to chat with me today. More tomorrow from somewhere else in Aberdeenshire.
Get in touch: email@example.com
For more information on ScARF go here: http://www.scottishheritagehub.com/
For more information on the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland see here: http://www.socantscot.org/
This project is being funded by Historic Environment Scotland and Museums Galleries Scotland.