Bernie Bell: Stromness Museum

Whenever I go into Stromness, I like to finish off my day with a visit to the Museum.  I’m a ‘Friend of…..’ so I present my card and get in ‘free’!  My most recent visit was because I particularly wanted to see the ‘Buddo’ exhibition featuring the little figurine first discovered in Skara Brae in the eighteen hundreds.  Then, when some of the collections from Skaill House were dispersed to various museums, this figurine was carefully placed in storage, and slipped out of the public eye for about 70 years! You know how it is when you put something away safely, and then forget where you put it?  That happens in museums too!

Buddo came to light again recently when museum staff were reviewing the items in storage.  ‘He’ connects two, no three, of my favourite places – Skaill Bay, Skaill House, and the Stromness Museum – so I felt that I should go and say “Hello”.

The exhibition is straight ahead as you go in the door, in the cabinets on the left-hand side.  The star attraction is Buddo himself, surrounded by various other artefacts from the Neolithic – bone pins, jewellery, small implements etc. The exhibits are of great interest in themselves, but what also caught my attention were the shadows cast from one shelf to another.  The glass shelf on which the bone pins lie appears to disappear and they appear to float in space, or time, casting a shadow on the stone below.

Stromness Museum

Photo B Bell

Another example is where some of the bone jewellery, casts a shadow on two big stones in the corner of the shelf below.  These shadows are reminiscent of the shapes of seaweed, in fact, also, of the pictures of seaweed by Rebecca Marr which are displayed on the stairway in the museum – or so I think anyway!

I could go on and on and on about this exhibition, but hope that I’ve said enough here to draw some folk in to see it, and to say “Hello” to Buddo after his long incarceration in the Museum store-room.

The Stromness Museum is small, but holds more interest than many larger, modern, lay-it-all-out-on-a-plate-and-don’t-make-them-think museums, and the Buddo exhibition is also small, but has so much to it.

Bernie Bell is a regular contributor to The Orkney News

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