Current Exhibition

Every year we have a summer exhibition.  We are always happy to speak to you about our exhibits, but if you wish to examine a piece more carefully prior arrangement must be made, as we are a Museum mainly run by volunteers.  Help us to help you! 

You can access some short information about past exhibitions via the links below the picture gallery. 

The summer 2017 exhibition is:

Per Mare Stromness 200 : 200 years as a Burgh of Barony

Some seventy five years before Stromness became a Burgh of Barony, the merchants and tradesmen of the village had shown their mettle by commencing a long legal battle for freedom from taxation by the Royal Burgh of Kirkwall.  On 24 January 1758 the House of Lords finally dismissed the Royal Burgh's claims.  The hero of the hour was Alexander Graham, who won the fight but was bankrupted by legal fees.

By the early 1800s Stromness had grown from a straggling village to a bustling seaport.  The townsfolk applied to the Crown for Burgh of Barony status, in order to deal with mounting squalor and control disorderly behaviour among the seafarers who frequented the many ale houses and taverns.  Despite the objections of the royal Burgh of Kirkwall, this was granted on 18th Feburary 1817:

...in the name of Alexander Davidson, John Louttit, George Geddes, George Humphrey and others, Feuars, Ship Owners, Traders, and Inhabitants, of the Town of Stromness..

Two hundred years ago Stromness was officially decreed a Burgh of Barony, and to mark the occasion a year-long Stromness 200 – Per Mare celebration will be held.  Today, Alexander Graham is commemorated by ‘Graham Place,’ and by the ‘Graham Memorial Fountain’ outside the Stromness Hotel. 

His legal victory, leading a small town against a Royal Burgh, was the first of its kind in Scotland and paved the way for others to follow. No longer could Royal Burghs depend on the law to enforce their privileges of taxing other towns for foreign trade. 

Stromness has a busy year of events ahead, as it also sees the 150th anniversary of the Stromness Lifeboat; the 180th anniversary of the Orkney Natural History Society (that’s us);  the 50th anniversary of both the Navigation School and youth club; and 10th anniversary of the extension to the Pier Arts Centre.

Per Mare Booklet
Per Mare Booklet
The cover of the new booklet, 'Per Mare Stromness 200' sponsored by Northlink Ferries, which is available free with your museum entrance ticket.
This lovely little publication, designed by Iain Ashman, links the artefacts of the Stromness Museum collection with the story of the town. With texts from Tom Muir, Janette Park and Bryce Wilson.
The original King George II Charter, creating the Burgh of Barony of Stromness, inscribed on vellum (calf skin) on display within the Museum
Orkney Library & Archives
The original King George II Charter, creating the Burgh of Barony of Stromness, inscribed on vellum (calf skin)
Orkney Library & Archives
Minute book
Minute book
First Minute Book of Stromness Town Council
Orkney Library & Archives
Taste of the Exhbition
Taste of the Exhbition

Past Exhibitions

We try to be as diverse as possible each year.  In 2014 our theme was "From Stromness to the Punjab," whilst in 2015 we looked to the Neolithic.

The 2016 summer exhibition...
On Sunday 5th June 2016 Orkney commemorated the loss of HMS Hampshire and the loss of all but 12 hands.  On board the Hampshire was the highest ranking British officer lost in World War One ...click for more...


The 2015 summer exhibition...
2015 saw the Neolithic coming to Stromness Museum, as we hosted some of the finds from the enigmatic and impresive Ness of Brodgar ongoing archaeological dig ...click for more...


The 2014 summer exhibition...
was "From Stromness to the Punjab: Sir John Login, Maharaja Duleep Singh and the treasures of Lahore" .... click for more....


The 2011 exhibition...
Stromness at War:  When war was declared on 3rd September 1939, Stromness found itself thrust into the heart of the storm ...click for more...


The winter 2010 exhibition...
A Glimpse of Peru in the 1930s; Keepsakes of a Stromness Family - Arthur Arcus, born in Lerwick, Shetland in 1881 joined the Merchant Navy as a steward at the age of 14. After seeing the world, and working his way up to Chief Steward he decided it was time for a change ...click for more...


The 2008 exhibition...
Sule Skerry is a part of Orkney that few Orcadians have seen or set foot on.  ...click for more...