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Museums

Awe-inspiring landscapes ooze history, which you can explore through the Park’s lively museums, full of fascinating relics of a bygone time…

History really comes alive in the Cairngorms. You can wander around a recreated early-days Highland village at the Folk Museum. Or explore the living tradition of the Highland Games at The Braemar Highland Games Centre. Or, if you’ve got Scottish roots, you’ll love the museums dedicated to local Clans and the Jacobite uprisings, telling the tales of a bloodthirsty past.

Braemar Highland Games Centre
Braemar Highland Games Centre
The Cairngorms has a rich cultural background and this is reflected in museums.

As with so many things in the Park, what sets its museums apart is how different they are.

Whether you want a more traditional experience, where exhibits are set out on display, or a more experiential one, where you ‘walk’ through history, you can find it.

You can even find a ‘mini’ museum offering a ‘little piece of motoring history’ in the form of a restored Automobile Association box (number 472), near Ballater!

Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre
Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre
Not all museums are focused on the past, either, some are rooted in the present day.

Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre, for example, which opened in 2018, tells the stories of its communities while also recommending the best things to see and do in the area.

Similarly, the Braemar Highland Games Centre tells of the ‘living tradition’ of Highland Games, which you can still enjoy today.


FAQs

Which is the best museum to visit in the Cairngorms National Park?

There is such a range of museums in the Park that it depends on your interests and what kind of museum experience you prefer. For instance, the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore is award-winning and highly innovative in its approach as it recreates an entire village that you walk around and actually experience. You can, if you like, cover a lot of ground. By contrast, the Park also has more traditional, smaller offerings such the Clan Macpherson Museum, also in Newtonmore, that focuses exclusively on one family (‘clan’) and its part in the Jacobite risings.

Which museum is most suited to kids?

The Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore is ideal for kids because it has a fantastic outdoor playground, café and lots of opportunity for the kids to play and touch things, while learning about history. There’s the old school house, for example, and the sweetie shop (which actually sells sweets) which are both firm favourites with children.

Can you eat and drink at the museums?

At some of them you can. For example the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Discovery Centre, which is one of the Park’s newer museums and opened in 2018, offers light refreshments. Both the Braemar Highland Games Centre and the Highland Folk Museum have lovely cafes offering a delicious spread of sandwiches, soups, breads and cakes. The Games Centre, in particular, prides itself on celebrating the best that Aberdeenshire can offer in terms of local produce on its menu.

Are museums open to visit all year round?

No. Often museums shut over the winter period, so it is advisable to double check opening hours directly with the venue.

Do you have to book to visit museums in advance?

Due to Covid restrictions, booking is necessary for most museums now to make tracking and tracing easier. It is best to check directly with each venue before you visit.


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