New Connections: New Links

While the ‘New Connections’ co-curation workshops across Shetland and Orkney finished in late 2018, the co-curators continue to be in contact with each other, and to explore the possibilities for new collaborations, inspired by their experiences of working together to bring the virtual museum into being.

In some cases, people have been continuing to research objects, archives, and other aspects of maritime heritage across the Northern Isles, where links can be made between the two, often contrastive, but also culturally linked island groups of Orkney and Shetland.

Stone line sinkers and fishing weights in Orkney

In 2020, Gabrielle Hames took up the challenge of being The Orkney Musem’s first “virtual” placement. The museum team asked her to investigate a set of objects that have been in the collection for many years – stone line sinkers. These are heavy objects that were used to weigh down fishing lines in deep water. There are several that have entered the collection as chance finds: items that were discovered by accident rather than during an archaeological excavation. We thought that examining these objects could provide a better understanding of Orkney’s fishing practices in the past.  For a summary of what Gabrielle’s research uncovered

Baltic Bowls, Riga Cups, and Skovi Kapps – New Connections: New Research

The work has been continued by the teams at the Orkney Museum, in Kirkwall, and at Shetland Museum and Archives. In Orkney the team have been researching to find out more about local collections of Khokhloma ware, known locally as Baltic ware, both within museums, and also in personal and family collections. This work resulted in two new exhibitions, one in Orkney and one in Shetland co-curated collaboratively across both archipelagos and drawing on museum and personal collections in both. You can read about each of the exhibitions, visit images and see a film about these beautiful handmade objects by clicking here.

You can find out about the objects and stories that inspired this research, by visiting our virtual museum page on Khokhloma ware; just click here.

Baltic Bowls and Riga Cups on display at the Orkney Museum. Photograph by G. Drinkall

New Connections: Making Future Heritages

As well as developing some of the themes taken-up when bringing the virtual museum together, co-curating has been happening with folk in these islands who have been inspired to make new responses, concerning what else might be included when we consider what maritime heritages are in these archipelagoes. Including making ‘future heritages’, following a concept first set-down by ethnologist Ullrich Kockel in 2002. Ullrich has been one of the people supporting and advising towards our co-curation and is based at the Intercultural Research Centre in Heriot-Watt University. You can find out more about his work by clicking here.

One group of very new co-curators, who have been making and curating together their responses to the virtual museum, and whose work is now included in this growing resource are the pupils at Aith Junior High School, Shetland. Visit their gallery of pasts, present and future Shetland maritime heritages, including some of the occupations still being carried out by their families on Shetland’s west side, and their own activities of enjoying the sea around them by clicking here.

Aith Junior High School pupils begin co-curating their virtual galleries. Photograph by C. McCullagh

Please cite New Connections Across the Northern Isles (2019) when referencing materials from this virtual museum.

Find out more

To visit the website of the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall, click here.

To visit the website of Shetland Museum and Archives, click here.

To visit the website of Aith Junior High School, click here.