New arrangements for the way in which Aberdeenshire’s wealth of historic artefacts can be accessed are to take effect across Aberdeenshire.
Increased focus on key facilities, the involvement of community groups, and the development of ‘pop up’ services are among measures being developed across the area.
The changes will help achieve savings of £120,000 over the next two years, as approved by the full council in November last year as part of wider budget savings.
Since then, the leisure service has been developing new ways of ensuring continued access to Aberdeenshire’s collections of artefacts within the facilities and resources available.
To achieve this, the council’s three largest museums will be retained as bases for educational exhibitions, research, conservation and curatorial work.
The focus of these measures will be the Farming Museum at Aden Country Park in Mintlaw (subject to some reductions to opening hours), the Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead, and Banchory Museum.
The museums store in Mintlaw will also be retained as the main base for staff, and for storing and caring for artefacts. In addition, the site will be promoted as a resources and study centre for the public.
While museums will no longer be operated on a seasonal basis by the council, work is underway to promote greater interest in history and heritage in new ways, including exploring the possibility of community groups taking over management of facilities.
A number of smaller museum exhibitions already based in libraries will operate as a ‘pop up’ service in future. This will involve the introduction of displays in libraries and other community facilities that can be regularly updated and supported by educational activities.
The content and themes of displays will be determined through discussions with local people, and initiatives in Inverurie and Huntly are already at an advanced stage of planning.
The council is also striving to support local community groups that have expressed an interest in opening some smaller, seasonal museums on a voluntary basis, including Fordyce Joiners Workshop, Sandhaven Meal Mill, Maud Railway Museum, and the Tolbooth Museum in Stonehaven.
It is hoped that the support of enthusiastic and knowledgeable local people will present opportunities for communities to have a real input into how historic buildings should be used and how the area’s history should be preserved for the future.
Where there are staffing implications under the new arrangements, action is already underway to mitigate the impact for employees.
A comprehensive support programme has been developed to provide assistance to managers and employees during the transition. This will also help to ensure there is minimal disruption to the delivery of services.
More information on Aberdeenshire’s museums service can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/museums