Shetland Museum and Archives has welcomed record numbers of visitors through the doors during the past two months. The exhibitions and events run as part of the Hamefarin celebrations attracted almost 11,000 people from the far corners of the world in June and visitor numbers have continued to rise in July with figures expected to be as high as 12,000.
Visitor services assistant Cathy Hallet said: “The Hamefarin period was the busiest I have ever seen in the museum. Folk had come from all over the world and were just so keen to look at everything and learn as much as we could tell them about Shetland’s heritage and culture.”
In addition to the permanent exhibitions, Da Gadderie has been running a special exhibition with artefacts, photos and stories from Shetland emigrants. Talks highlighting some of the individual stories of Shetland travellers complemented the exhibition. The exhibition has continued to attract visitors throughout July.
Hamefarers were invited on a free boat trip around Lerwick Harbour on board the Pilot Us. Visitor service assistants Trevor Jamieson and Laurie Goodlad took to the seas with 151 people over the two weeks of the Hamefarin celebrations. Margaret Thwaites from Western Australia said: “What a wonderful boat trip. One of the highlights of my stay in Shetland.”
In June more than 120 people accessed the archives to research family history. Visitors from nine countries including Australia and New Zealand, the USA and Canada, France, Germany, Norway and The Netherlands made use of the archive resources to trace family roots.
Assistant archivist Joanne Wishart said: “We were inundated at the archives during the Hamefarin, and were the busiest we have ever been. Lots of visitors came regularly and were able to find out vast amounts about their ancestors, that they couldn’t have found elsewhere.”
The Shetland Museum and Archives shop also had a busy month. Shetland themed books were particularly popular with Hamfarers, accounting for nearly half of sales. Other popular products included souvenirs, jewellery and woolen goods.