Rural Museums Network Annual Conference 2015

Annual Conference 2015

The Preservation and Interpretation of Historic Farm Buildings


The Rural Museums Network annual conference for 2015 will be held in Scotland on 20th and 21st May. It is being hosted jointly by Urras Achadh an Droighinn/The Auchindrain Trust and Scotland’s National Museum of Rural Life.

The conference will focus on the preservation and interpretation of historic farm buildings. Many rural life museums occupy buildings originally constructed to house farming activities and processes, or dwellings that meet the needs of people involved in agriculture. Some museums collect examples of such buildings and present them as museum objects, but in general the focus in rural life museums can be on displayed contents or current operational needs. Within a sector where a wide spread of different approaches is both inevitable and desirable, to what extent should the visitor’s attention be drawn to the way a building was designed to support particular activities? What about the materials it was made from or the way in which it was constructed? And does it matter how such buildings are then adapted and maintained to support their new museum use: what are our philosophies?

At a time when traditional farm buildings are increasingly threatened by the impact of changes in agricultural methods, rural life museums will have an increasingly important role as the holders and preservers of the last remaining examples of what was once too common to be worthy of attention.

The first day of the conference will be based at Auchindrain, 75 miles north-west of Glasgow in rural Argyll. The museum preserves the last active survivor and now incomparably the most complete example of what were once thousands of joint-tenancy farm “townships” across Scotland. It is Scotland’s largest group of remaining vernacular rural buildings, and is recognised as a site of national importance. On the second day, the conference will move south (thus, for most of those attending, on the way home) to the National Museum of Rural Life in East Kilbride. At the heart of this lies an 18th and 19th century model farm, Wester Kittochside, which is currently presented as it was in the 1950s. Guided study tours of both sites will provide an opportunity for people to develop an understanding of their nature and different significances, and of the management challenges arising from their new uses as museums for visitors.

A keynote talk will be delivered by Gavin Sprott, who as a senior curator with National Museums Scotland played a leading role in the development of Wester Kittochside Farm into the National Museum of Rural Life, and who is also a long-serving Trustee of Auchindrain.

Please click here to view the schedule of the 2015 conference.

Please click here to download the information and booking form for the conference.

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