Proposed Move of Highland Folk Museum to Revamped Newtonmore Site
Highland Councillors are being advised that a £7.3 million redevelopment of the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore could double visitor numbers and increase income by up to £1.8 million each year.
A report being presented to the Badenoch and Strathspey Area Committee on Monday (4 December) recommends that the museum premises at Kingussie should close and that all operations should move to the site at Newtonmore.
This option, states the report, offers a number of advantages for the Folk Museum. As well as providing a more manageable visitor experience, it offers the opportunity for more display and storage of collection items, more space for potential growth of the collection, potential for improved interpretation themes and more scope for development of the visitor experience.
Kingussie is ruled out as the base for the revamped museum as the site is not large enough to contain the required range of facilities for the future and would require a downsizing of Highland Folk Museum.
To maximise Newtonmore's potential, the report recommends construction of an entrance facility housing a range of visitor activities, exhibitions, services and administration and a second new building housing curatorial, storage, archive, library and related services. Provisional costs are estimated at £7.3 million. An application to the Heritage Lottery would be made.
To assess the impact of relocation on Kingussie and on Newtonmore, independent consultants, Jura Consultants, have undertaken an assessment of the importance of the Highland Folk Museum to the local economy.
It is estimated from their survey results, that closure of the Kingussie site would result in a reduction in visitor expenditure of around £153k in the town. This expenditure helped to create or safeguard around 8 full time equivalent jobs in the area, including those in the museum itself, and throughout the Highlands.
The potential loss of any jobs in Kingussie would be offset by transfer of posts to Newtonmore and by additional staffing requirements at Newtonmore and employment created by any alternative use of the Kingussie site.