Funding boost for Linlithgow Museum

Stephen Balfour of Linlithgow Museum. Visit the museum's new website - www.linlithgowmuseum.org.
Stephen Balfour of Linlithgow Museum. Visit the museum's new website - www.linlithgowmuseum.org.

Linlithgow Museum has received a funding boost which it hopes will help it become a year round and self-sufficient attraction in the town.

Based in the Linlithgow Partnership Centre on the High Street, the museum received £22,500 from Museum Galleries Scotland to enable the project manger to continue in a new business manager role for the next 10 months.

Following the recent relocation and redevelopment, Linlithgow Heritage Trust, which runs the museum, is now looking to secure a sustainable future.

Steven Balfour moved into his new business manager role on Monday. Speaking about the funding, he said: “It’s important. I have been involved in the museum for the past 15 months or so to get it up and running. We are aware there is still quite a lot of work to do to really deliver the project.

“So we applied for this money to extend my stay for a further 10 months. It’s quite important to deliver the final stages of year two of the project and get it firmly established before it goes back to being fully volunteer-run.

“My role will change slightly. We have got some on-going activities planned. We want to continue to engage with schools etc, but also to look at the sustainability of the museum and increase membership numbers.

“It’s a slightly different perspective. Like every charitable organisation we have to bring money in to keep it running and invest in the physical fabric. Getting the museum operating as efficiently as possible and grow visitor numbers.

“This year we have had 3,500 visitors since Easter. To sustain that we will have to keep working hard. People tend to go once to check things out, but we want them to come back.

“So it’s about trying to maximise all the opportunities we have got at this lovely museum. We are trying to really embed it into the local community.

“It’s challenging with the funding environment so we really need to maximise any opportunity there may be.”

The museum currently has 50-60 active volunteers.

Steven added: “We couldn’t have done what we have so far without volunteers. Since the start of last year we have had 1,500 volunteer hours. We are very fortunate.

“Our aspiration is to open six days a week and if possible all year round, so we need quite a big pool of volunteers to do that.

“We have had some people move on to paid employment which is a successful outcome. We are trying to have a mix of ages so sometimes people are going to want to move on, so it’s a bigger turnover with the age range, but I think it’s important to have a mix.

“Our volunteers are generally from in and around the town. So they are motivated because they live here and have an interest in local history. Or they just want to do something that involves engaging with people.”

Linlithgow Museum is just one of 12 projects to receive a share of just under £500,000 from Museum Gallieries Scotland.

Lucy Casot, chief executive officer at Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “We are delighted to support Scotland’s museums in achieving their ambitions through these twelve projects. Museums are safe spaces that reflect the world we live in, so it is entirely appropriate that we should invest in ensuring they remain relevant in today’s diverse society and we particularly welcome the projects that are revisiting their collections to explore different perspectives and stories.

“Lots of the projects involve elements of digitisation which will enable the museums to improve their accessibility, and we are also keen to support the creation of new jobs in the museums sector, which many of these projects will deliver.”