By Peter Kearney
Blairs Museum, Scotland’s National Catholic Museum has launched a brand-new website featuring an interactive virtual museum and shop, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government’s “Museum Recovery and Resilience Fund” established to protect Scotland’s culture and heritage sectors from the impacts of Covid-19.
The new website unites all the collections of the Scottish Catholic Heritage Collections Trust Museum, and the historic Library and Archive (both of which are on loan to the University of Aberdeen). The website also provides a link to the Scottish Catholic Archives at Columba House in Edinburgh.
This project was funded through a significant Recovery and Resilience Grant from Museums Galleries Scotland. In July 2020, the Scottish Government allocated £4 million to the Museum Recovery and Resilience Fund from the £97 million package of funding to protect Scotland’s culture and heritage sectors from the impacts of Covid-19.
The Museum Recovery and Resilience Fund aims to secure the future of Scottish independent museums put at risk by the pandemic and to protect the vital role that they play in their communities.
Museum curator and project lead Amy Miller said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented many visitors from coming in person to view our collections at Blairs. This new website and suite of online resources allows anyone with an internet connection to see our museum and treasures safely. We have 3D scanned a selection of our artefacts and users can interact with the object by zooming and rotating it to see all the details.”
She added: “We have also created a YouTube Channel to host our new series of web videos about our collections and the amazing stories they tell. We are still adding new videos so it is well worth checking the channel regularly.”
The new website also features learning resources for school pupils to use in conjunction with the virtual museum so learning can take place with or without a physical visit. Schools will also have the option to “Contact a Curator”, where museums staff can lead learning sessions through videoconferencing software.
Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said: “We are pleased to support Blairs Museum through the Recovery and Resilience Fund. The museum has faced loss of income and a multitude of challenges caused by the pandemic. They have responded to these difficulties with forward thinking plans to expand their online activities and support visitors and school children to explore this important cultural collection from afar.”
Pictures: The magnificent seminary church at Blairs and items and artefacts on display at the museum in the Diocese of Aberdeen.