Most people don’t realise how often museums work together. The Shining Lights exhibition has given National Museums Scotland the opportunity to work with other museums such as the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. As the Director of the Museum, I would like to tell you a little bit about it and how we fit into the Shining Lights story.
The Museum of Scottish Lighthouses is a small museum in Fraserburgh. It has a staff of ten but a nationally recognised collection of over 100,000 artefacts, archives and images. The Museum tells the story of Scottish lighthouses from the inception of the Northern Lighthouse Board to the modern day. Based at Kinnaird Head Lighthouse, the first Scottish Lighthouse run by the Northern Lighthouse Board, the Museum also offers visitors an opportunity to step back in time and learn about the lives of the keepers who lived and worked here.
The Museum is extremely lucky to have two ex-lighthouse keepers and one lighthouse keeper’s daughter working as guides. This connection to the site gives visitors a personal sense of an otherwise unimaginable way of life. In the Museum’s fifteen years of operation we have tried to include the memories of our ex-keepers in the stories we tell throughout the galleries. Shining Lights gave us a chance to film our lighthouse keeper’s daughter Kirsten for the first time.
The day of the filming loomed and staff prepared as best we could for the invasion of the cameras. As a small museum, anything unusual has to be prepared for. The crew arrived and set up a filming area in the Museum. There was a real buzz of excitement that only a film crew can produce. Staff tiptoed around and held their breath.
Kirsten survived the ‘ordeal’ or her debut in front of the cameras. The film of her experiences, and the memories of other people involved in the lighthouse service, can be seen in the Shining Lights exhibition, and below. We will also be showing sections on the computers in the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. Most importantly we have these recordings for posterity, so that we can continue to tell the story of Scottish lighthouses into the future.
I hope you agree that Shining Lights has been greatly illuminated by the inclusion of the stories of our staff and other ex-keepers. There is no replacement for real human experience.