Industrial Museums Scotland launches nationwide project to address skills gap and ensure future for nationally significant heritage collections

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Scotland’s federation of independent industrial museums is set to launch a nationwide project to address a decrease in conservation skills and ensure the country’s most important and at risk industrial artefacts are saved for future generations.

Through the two year Powering Our People project, Industrial Museums Scotland will ensure the 14 member museums have a trained and knowledgeable workforce, best equipped to care for their Nationally Significant collections, now and into the future.

The move comes after a skills review led by Industrial Museums Scotland and engaging employees and volunteers confirmed that funding cuts over recent years have led to fewer staff and an increasing shortage of specialist training.

The first nationwide training programme led by Industrial Museums Scotland, the £230,000 Powering Our People project has been generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Museum Galleries Scotland, the Pilgrim Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, the Headley Trust and the Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust.  

Through the Powering Our People project, Industrial Museums Scotland will employ a conservator and industrial conservation intern to work alongside 100 employees and volunteers to develop skills, particularly in the care of large industrial objects, important paper archives and innovative and historic engines.

The project, which will also benefit the wider industrial heritage sector, will centre on training, workplace exchanges, a conference and shadowing a conservator, as well as creating online resources to benefit the future workforce.

Announcing the Powering Our People project David Mann, Chair of Industrial Museums Scotland, says:

“We are grateful to funders for supporting this major legacy project for Scotland’s industrial museums. Key skills will be gained and shared within the workforce and the care of Scotland’s amazing and nationally important industrial heritage will become more sustainable into the future.”

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:

“Scotland’s industrial heritage, from ship-building to coal-mining, is a vital part of our nation’s story, and it is essential that we keep the skills alive to care for the important industrial heritage collections we hold around the country. We are delighted that, thanks to funding from National Lottery players, we have been able to support the Powering Our People project to ensure the continued preservation of collections, and of traditional skills, for years to come.”

Lucy Casot, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland said:

“We’re delighted to support Industrial Museums Scotland with this important project that focuses on upskilling their teams. This emphasis on workforce development will help build the resilience of their member museums and continue to tell the story of Scotland’s industrial past. Their increase in training opportunities for employees and volunteers will help support the dissemination of skills and knowledge, which will be of benefit to the sector.”

Sue Bowers, Director of the Pilgrim Trust, said:

“The Pilgrim Trust is delighted to be supporting the Powering Our People project. Preserving specialist conservation skills and championing conservation training is one of the Trust's priorities. These skills and knowledge are an integral part of conserving Scotland’s rich industrial heritage. We look forward to seeing the wider learnings from this project and how it can help address the skills gap throughout the heritage sector.”

Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“It is extremely important that we develop and promote traditional skills training opportunities and we are pleased to support Industrial Museums Scotland with £14,712 as part of our Historic Environment Support Fund. By training the next generation, we are helping to ensure that our historic environment is protected for the future.”

Notes to editor

For any further press information, images or interviews please contact Emma Halford-Forbes 077512 38872 or email

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Industrial Museums Scotland is a federation of independent industrial museums with venues across Scotland – find out more. Its aim is to ensure that Scotland's amazing industrial heritage continues to play an important role in our rich culture, and serves to inspire the future whilst safeguarding the past. Its members care for 13 collections recognised as being of National Significance by the Scottish Government.

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future.

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund

Museums Galleries Scotland

Museums Galleries Scotland is the National Development Body for museums and galleries in Scotland and offers strategic development support to the sector. For further information about Museums Galleries Scotland visit  

The Pilgrim Trust

The Pilgrim Trust is an independent grant-making trust that supports the urgent and future needs of the UK. It gives approximately £3 million in grants per year to charities and other public bodies that either focus on preserving the UK’s heritage or on catalysing social change. Its preservation and scholarship fund aims to preserve the fabric of historically important buildings and to conserve significant collections and artefacts. It wants present and future generations to enjoy the rich and diverse heritage found throughout the UK.

About Historic Environment Scotland 

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. HES is also the lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time. 

  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of Historic Environment Scotland. 

Historic Environment Scotland is a registered Scottish Charity. Scottish Charity No. SC045925 

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The Headley Trust

The Headley Trust was founded in 1973 by Sir Timothy Sainsbury, who remains the Chairman 48 years later. It is one of 16 Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts. The Headley Trust makes grants of around £5 million a year, largely in the Arts and Heritage field. Among its priority areas are museums and galleries, particularly those operating in the regions. The trustees particularly wish to support the professional development of curators, as well as the display, study and acquisition of British ceramics and the conservation of industrial, maritime and built heritage. See for information about the full range of the trust’s interests.

Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust

The Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust was established in 1966 by Gordon Fraser, a publisher of books and greetings cards. The Trust’s Paper Conservation Fund aims to help accredited museums in Scotland, in particular small and medium-sized independent ones, to work with conservators to undertake projects that conserve their collections of works on paper.  Projects can be treatment, surveys, training courses and skills development workshops.