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MGS Festival of Museums 2014

This weekend Strathnaver Museum is hosting two great events which explore the Strathnaver Clearances and their aftermath as part of their Bicentenary Programme. The events are also part of an exciting programme taking place across Scotland as part of Festival of Museums between 16 and 18 May 2014.

Primary School children from Melvich, Bettyhill and Tongue have been working hard to create a special Bicentenary Play with the help of Eden Court Outreach Officer, David Hunter. Using the Museum’s Portable Museum of Curiosity for inspiration their play romps through 400 years of the area’s history. The Portable Museum was created by local artist Joanne B Kaar during a Museum Residency in 2012.

The play’s action begins with the First Lord Reay, Donald Mackay in 1614 before moving onto the Skirmish of Tongue during the Jacobite rebellion. The play then examines the tragic story of the Year of the Burning in 1814 which marked the beginning of the brutal Strathnaver Clearances. The children then explore the heartbreaking story of the soldiers who left during the First World War and never returned. Find out how our youngsters view their past and more importantly how they see their future in Mackay Country.

The children will perform their play as part of the Festival of Museums on Friday starting at 2pm with a parade from Farr High School to the Bettyhill Village Hall. Festival of Museums is coordinated by Museums Galleries Scotland and is a celebration of Scotland’s culture and coincides with Europe-wide museum events such as Museums at Night.

Joanne Orr, Chief Executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, said: “Festival of Museums is about igniting imaginations while celebrating Scotland’s wealth of culture. The packed programme features extraordinary, surprising and exciting events over three fun-filled days in museums across Scotland. So come and see what Scotland’s museums have in store for you.”

The Museum continues to explore how Mackay Country has evolved from the time of the Strathnaver Clearances through to the present day with their new exhibition. The exhibition opens on Saturday and is part of the “My heart’s in the Highlands” Homecoming 2014 project.

The exhibition was created by the Museum’s extraordinary volunteers using the Heilam Ferry Collection to explore the story of one family’s journey from the time of the Strathnaver Clearances to the present day. The story begins with Annie Sutherland’s eviction from Totaig and the journey her descendants took first to Melness, then Caithness and the field’s of France during WWI. Discover how Annie’s Grandson Hugh Mackay escaped from a POW camp and how he evaded recapture. Hugh’s granddaughter Rhiona Mackay, a fourth year pupil at Farr High School, is one of the Museum’s valuable volunteers and loaned this exciting range of family memorabilia to the Museum on behalf of her dad, Allan Mackay of Hope, manager of Melness Sheep Farm.

From 12pm Feis Air An Oir will join the celebrations at Strathnaver Museum and entertain visitors with traditional music before complimentary nibbles are served. The exhibition launches during the Museum’s Festival of Museums Open Day and entry is free the exhibition and the Museum.

The Museum’s event is just one of many exciting events at museums and heritage sites in the Highland and Moray Council areas. The programme of 80+ events explore and celebrate what makes the Highlands special to the people who live here, and to people around the world.