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The Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick, Shetland Island, United Kingdom

Friday 01 Jun 2007

Tracing the Viking roots

Photography: Mark Sinclair 
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BDP Architects design and complete The Shetland Museum and Archives which opens 2 June 2007 

On 2nd June 2007, the long awaited Shetland Museum and Archives will open to the public. This new £11.6m building, designed by BDP, represents an important new cultural hub as well as a major new visitor attraction for these fascinating islands. The Shetland Museum and Archives will become the first port of call for all visitors to the islands, as well as a heritage hub for islanders themselves. It features a dynamic waterside setting on the historic Hay’s Dock in the centre of Lerwick, Shetland’s capital. A striking timber-clad three-storey high Boat Hall housing five historic boats suspended up to 14 metres high. Tracing the history of the Shetland boat from its Viking roots through to the present day, the Boat Hall also contains two viewing platforms allowing visitors to see the boats from a variety of angles. A remarkable collection of over 3,000 artifacts, and archives of written, photographic, oral and musical records. A unique Public Art Project, for both inside and outside the building, including collaborations with local and international artists, the Hay’s Dock Café Restaurant, serving local produce, with panoramic views of the harbour. The building, with its dynamic sail-shaped Boat Hall, was recently chosen as a best practice example by the Scottish Executive in its new strategy for architecture and is the centrepiece of a restoration of the historic Hay’s Dock. The new 3,500 m² building, which utilises old boatsheds, has five times the previous Museum display space and three times the previous archive storage area. Externally the building form is largely derived from traditional early Shetland buildings - Lodberries, whose gable ends rise from the sea - and is constructed of traditional materials of harled masonry walls, timber windows and slate pitched roofs. The new Museum has allowed the return of many priceless artifacts from Shetland’s Viking past which were on display in the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The key funders of The Shetland Museum and Archives are the Shetland Charitable Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Key Facts

Status Completed
Value 17(m€)
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