To mark our selection as a Finalist in the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2015 we’re embarking on a unique and ambitious tour of the country – the Dodo Roadshow.
Beginning at Land’s End on 8 June and concluding in John O’Groats one week later, the famous Oxford Dodo will visit more than 20 museums and galleries along the way. At each stop the Dodo will ‘interview’ one of the venue’s star objects.
Ullapool Museum: Telford Parliamentary Church
So, tell me about yourself – who are you and where do you come from?
I am a very special building. I was built as a church here in Ullapool in 1829 and Thomas Telford, one of Britain’s most celebrated engineers, designed me. I was built as a Parliamentary Church, after the government of the day decided that more places of worship were needed in the thinly populated and scattered parishes of the highlands of Scotland.
What is it that makes you so special?
I am unique; although thirty-two Parliamentary Churches were built, I’m the only one still standing that remains true to Telford’s original design. I still have the original décor and fittings, and the only gallery still surviving. I have a very special role, as I am the building that also houses the museum’s collection and I provide a place for visitors to come and learn about the history of Lochbroom.
Who looks after you in this place?
I am looked after by a wonderful group of volunteers. Some of the team help to conserve me, and work to maintain my walls and all the special features inside. Other volunteers are involved in helping to fundraise to help keep my doors open to the public. Some of the team also work on interpreting my history and give tours to visitors.
Do you remember life before the museum?
My life before being a museum building was very different. As a church, I was used to being full of people congregating every Sunday and I was a busy hub for village life. The last service that was held here was a wedding in 1935. After that, my walls fell silent until 1995, when I became the Ullapool Museum. My doors are now open to visitors and my walls tell the stories and the histories of the people of Lochbroom.
What does the future hold for you?
Because I am a Grade A1 listed building, it costs a great deal to conserve me and to keep my doors open to visitors. My volunteer team spend a lot of time helping to raise money to care for me. Everyone hopes that I can continue to be here to help tell the stories of the people of Lochbroom for many years!