Museum appeals for photographs and items for Hamefarin exhibition

Shetland Museum and Archives.
Shetland Museum and Archives.

Shetland Museum and Archives is appealing for photographs and objects relating to emigrants from the isles for a special exhibition for next year’s Hamefarin celebrations.

The exhibition will tell the stories of islanders who emigrated from as far back as the 1500s right up to the present day, and include artefacts, documents, paintings and photographs. Staff at the museum are especially interested in photographs or paintings of islanders in their new lives, as well as any artefacts and documents which can help to tell their stories.

Ian Tait, curator of collections, said: “Emigration is a vital part of Shetland’s story which has had little research and never been highlighted in an exhibition before. The Hamefarin will bring Shetlanders home from beyond the seas, and this exhibition will tell the story of Shetlanders who left their native islands seeking a better life elsewhere.

“We are not looking for portrait photos, but would prefer pictures that show emigrants in their new life. This could be at work, outside their home, on a ship, or just sightseeing.

“The objects we seek can be anything from the emigrant’s life – household utensils, personal effects, or work implements for example. Many Shetlanders have relatives who have emigrated and we would like you to spread the word of our appeal. We also know that many emigrants sent photos, letters and other items home, if you have any of these please contact us.”

If you have images, artefacts or documents related to Shetland emigrants that may be suitable for the exhibition please contact Helen Whitham at the museum on (01595) 695057 or email

Due to the expected response, items in the exhibition will be restricted to first generation Shetlanders, i.e. those who were born in Shetland and later emigrated, even as a child. These can be from people who emigrated recently or items which have been handed down a family, whose ancestor emigrated long ago. Museum staff would like to hear from people who settled in the Empire and foreign countries as well as mainland Britain.

Meanwhile, Shetland Museum and Archives is seeking votes as it competes with other Lottery-funded projects across the UK in the semi-finals of the National Lottery Awards 2009.

The iconic museum has been named as one of only 10 projects to make it through to the semi-finals in the Best Heritage Project category of the awards. The winning project in each category will receive national recognition on a special BBC1 TV show later this year and a £2,000 cash prize to spend on their project.

Shetland Amenity Trust general manager Jimmy Moncrieff said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to have reached the semi-final of the National Lottery Awards, now we need all our supporters to get behind us and vote. Without Lottery funding Shetland Museum and Archives wouldn’t exist, so it’s great for us to be recognised in this way.”

Voting for the semi-finals starts at 9am on Monday and ends at midday on Friday 10th July. To register your vote for Shetland Museum and Archives call 0844 686 8390 or log on to
The three projects in each category with the most number of votes will go through to the finals of the awards and another round of public voting later in August.


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