The Scapa Flow Visitor Centre on Hoy will be closed next year (2018) while it undergoes exciting and extensive redevelopment. the newly refurbished facilities will reopen in 2019 which will be the centenary of the famous Scuttling of the German Fleet.
Many of you will know that after their surrender at the end of the First World War, most of the German Navy’s ships were kept in Scapa Flow with their crews on board. Unhappy with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the German commanders decided to sink their ships to stop them from being used by their former enemies. The scuttle was planned in secret and caught the Royal Navy by surprise. Many of the ships were sunk and in the confusion, some German sailors were shot by their captors.
Between the wars, a number of the wrecks were salvaged and for a time, this became an important industry for Orkney. The remaining wrecks are now popular with recreational divers, although it is strictly forbidden to harm the wrecks or remove anything from them.
The sinking of the German fleet is just one of the many fascinating and often tragic stories connected to Scapa Flow.
Full details of the proposed closure and redevelopment are set out below:
Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum is currently preparing for a major redevelopment, funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Orkney LEADER fund and Orkney Islands Council Capital Projects programme. All the existing buildings will be renovated, and a new building linked to the Pumphouse will provide a controlled exhibition environment and improved visitor facilities.
The museum closed, as usual, on 31 October 2017, and work to pack the collection and prepare the buildings for renovation work is now underway. It will remain closed until Spring 2019. Completion of the works is scheduled for the end of April 2019, with an official opening to coincide with the centenary of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet on 21 June 2019.
From January onwards, staff will be working on developing the new exhibition with a scriptwriter and exhibition design company Studio MB. This will involve a huge amount of input from the museum team.
Because of this, curatorial staff will be unable to accept any work or commitments over and above projects that have already been agreed and other staff may not be able to support research requests and enquiries until summer 2019.
During the 2018 summer season we will have a ‘pop-up’ museum at Lyness, accommodated in 2 large portakabins adjacent to the ferry terminal. This will also become an office base for staff once they vacate the Pumphouse. The temporary exhibition space in The Orkney Museum will be used to display some of the wartime collection, including a 360 degree photo record of the former display.
The exhibition at Lyness will consist of information only, with no objects on show. This means that it will not necessarily be staffed at all times, although there will be a staff presence as often as possible. We hope there will be a small retail area in the office, and a local business hopes to be providing food and drink from mobile premises adjacent to the site.
Alongside the exhibition we will be delivering more frequent guided walks and we hope that this combined offer will still encourage visitors to come across to Lyness.
As work progresses, we intend to issue regular updates and please check our Facebook page and website for news of any special events. Meantime, if you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch and thank you for your patience and understanding.
Orkney Arts, Museums and Heritage Service
Visitor Services Team Leader
Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Lyness, Orkney KW16 3NT
Tel; 01856 791300