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Museum celebrates 50th anniversary

The Isles of Scilly Museum celebrated 50 years since its official opening yesterday.

Trustees, desk volunteers and others involved with the Museum past or present were invited to a small gathering to commemorate the milestone.

The Museum on St Mary's was officially opened by the Queen on August 8th 1967, although it was open to the public from July 15. It was deemed necessary to build a proper facility after severe gales in the winter of 1962 yielded some remarkable Romano-British finds on Nornour. Five years later, "after much fundraising and thanks to huge volunteer enthusiasm", the present Museum was built.

An entry in The Scillonian magazine from 1967 by Mrs M Mackenzie reads: "In less than a month from opening we were greatly honoured by the visit of the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne on August 8th. They were very interested in all they saw and particularly in the Nornour exhibits...

"So many people have been involved in so many ways in the creation of the Museum. We thank them for all they have done and hope that they and all those who live in Scilly will have pride and pleasure in their Museum."

Chair of Trustees Katharine Sawyer read out the extract during yesterday's event, saying that she felt the final sentence in particular was "an appropriate message going forward".

She told This is Scilly: "So many people were involved in setting it up and that continued with Trustees, desk volunteers and others. We made a huge step forward when the Museum was able to employ a curator, with Amanda Martin being in place now for almost 15 years. We have since received accreditation."

She said that the Museum is traditional, without the electronic wizardry of some larger and better funded facilities on the mainland, adding: "It may have been state of the art in 1967, but it certainly isn't in 2017. The Council very kindly lets us have the building for a peppercorn rent and we cover our expenses, but we're not rich by any means.

"Having said that, we keep adding new pieces and occasionally making new purchases. We're always updating the exhibits as many visitors come every year and we want them to have something new to look at. And I find that lots of people actually appreciate a traditional Museum, with objects in cases."

Katharine said that the Museum is very keen to have more desk volunteers as some are in their nineties, "although they do sterling work".

"It's just a question of committing to a couple of hours a week. Everyone there is a volunteer apart from the curator and it's just a nice way of meeting visitors and talking to people about the islands."

Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to see Amanda in the Museum.

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