A major new force burst on to Scotland’s cultural landscape on last week, with the launch of a federation to promote a sustainable and growing future for the industrial heritage sector.
Industrial Museums Scotland is led by the three national industrial museums – the Scottish Mining Museum, the Scottish Maritime Museum and the Scottish Fisheries Museum – who will receive direct funding from the Scottish Government.
In return, they have agreed to join forces in co-operation with smaller industrial museums to forge benefits for the sector as a whole.
It follows a major review of Scotland’s cultural landscape by a group of sectoral experts, which culminated in an announcement in December 2010 by Fiona Hyslop, Minister for Culture and External, of a package of measures to steer Scotland’s museums and galleries towards a more sustainable future.
These included a recommendation for a federation of industrial museums, and the three national museums have acted swiftly to put the new structure in place.
Virginia Mayes-Wright, director of The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses said “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us to be part of something which truly unites nationally important industrial museums across Scotland”.
Trustees from seven industrial museums signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the Scottish Railway Preservation Society Museum in Bo’ness on Monday, March 21.
The event marked the formation of the federation, which will operate under the heading of Industrial Museums Scotland.
The seven Museums are Almond Valley Heritage Trust, Dundee Heritage Trust, Museum of Lead Mining, Scottish Fisheries Museum, Scottish Maritime Museum, Scottish Mining Museum, Scottish Railway Preservation Society and The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses.
They have agreed a plan for closer co-operation in their work and for the development of joint projects.
All seven hold collections recognised as having National Significance to Scotland and all of them are fully accredited.
Ms Hyslop said, “I am delighted that the Federation is becoming a reality. Our industrial museums have a vital role in telling the story of Scotland’s past and it is important that these museums can carry on telling that story to future generations.
“The Federation’s commitment to collaborative working and the sharing of expertise will ensure that our industrial museums are not just sustained but are able to realise their full potential.
“I am particularly grateful to the Scottish Maritime Museum, Scottish Mining Museum and Scottish Fisheries Museums for leading the way in the establishment of the Federation and I commend all members for acting so swiftly in agreeing the memorandum of understanding.”
Henry McLeish, chairman of Trustees of the Scottish Mining Museum, added: “This is an important day for Scotland’s industrial heritage. The new Federation will provide a platform for conserving and promoting some of Scotland’s finest industrial assets and facilitate a more coordinated approach to managing them sustainably. Working together, we can ensure that Scotland’s industrial past captures the interest and imagination of Scots and the growing number of international visitors.”