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Lews Castle Museum and Archive: Supporting monitoring and evaluation

Our monitoring and evaluation support, identified the impact of the Museum and Archive project not only in broad economic terms, but also on the wider network of cultural and heritage infrastructure across the Outer Hebrides. The project enabled community-based heritage organisations to benefit from the professional expertise and increased profile of Island heritage it generated.

The core focus of this Heritage Lottery Fund supported project was to bring the derelict Lews Castle back into beneficial use. At the same time, the relocation of the Museum nan Eilean and the provision of modern, state of the art archive storage and research facilities, would increase the number of visitors to the Outer Hebrides and provide a greater educational resource. In addition, the restoration of the Castle provided a high-quality tourist accommodation enterprise and function rooms available to the community.

We reviewed and updated the monitoring framework to reflect the staffing and timescales of the project as they evolved. We carried out a baseline and follow-up survey of local Commain Eachdraidh and other heritage partners, consulted stakeholders and helped design a visitor survey.

While it has taken time to develop, since the new Museum was opened there has been an increase in activity across the heritage network. There is also evidence of a renewed interest in local heritage groups, with at least three moribund groups now taking an interest in becoming active again (Scalpay, Back, Eriskay). There has also been a strong relationship built up between the Comhairle and both the British Museum and National Museums of Scotland (NMS).

The new museum provided custom-built, modern facilities for archive research and learning activities. This makes it more attractive and easier for visitors to take advantage of the educational opportunities that the museum offers.

Our report identified an additional annual visitor income of £500,000 and overall economic impact of £2.4M to £2.8M in revenue generated through the project, supporting 100 to 120 Full time equivalent jobs.

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